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Impact of the School System 20/20 Diagnostic on 15 Districts

News about the School System 20/20 Diagnostic

Last spring we released “Back from the Brink,” a case study of turnaround efforts in the Lawrence Public Schools. This study used ERS’ new School System 20/20 Diagnostic—a data-informed, holistic series of assessments to help leaders in their efforts to redesign school systems. School System 20/20’s approach to measuring system progress allows districts, like Lawrence, to determine if their efforts are yielding stronger, better aligned results. School system transformation is complex, but results so far make us optimistic that we heading in the right direction.

Fifteen Districts and Counting

The positive response to this initiative surpassed our expectations, and we expect to partner with districts including Boston, Indianapolis, Oakland, Tulsa, Cleveland, Palm Beach, Charlotte, Baltimore, a cohort of districts in Connecticut (organized by Connecticut Council For Education Reform [CCER]), and a cohort of districts New York to complete the School System 20/20 diagnostic over the next six months. In addition to providing valuable information to help district leadership teams prioritize their improvement strategies, these analyses provide a baseline for measuring their progress over time and will help to build a broad database of metrics that leaders can use to compare themselves against other districts.

Inspiring action

Our main focus for this work is how to convert results into action. As one 20/20 advisor said, “It’s the conversations, not the data, which are going to make a difference.” So far, we’re finding that the process is very effective in starting and focusing valuable conversations. For instance, in our opening sessions with district leadership in three large urban districts, leadership expanded the consideration set of actions to prioritize. In one district, School System 20/20 analysis revealed that a large number of very small and under-enrolled schools was severely limiting the ability of teachers and administrators in those schools to implement a host of targeted instructional strategies for struggling students. In another, district leaders prioritized rethinking how teachers were assigned to match highly effective teachers with the neediest students. And in a third, looking at student need, funding and performance relative to similar districts in the state revealed the need for radical and immediate actions in the district’s lowest performing schools. 

Looking ahead

We are excited to continue our work with district leaders to explore how the School System 20/20 diagnostic can inform their system transformation work and help them focus their efforts and track their progress on this difficult but critical journey. For more information on our School System 20/20 Diagnostic see this overview or contact us directly at system2020@erstrategies.org.

Impact of the School System 20/20 Diagnostic on 15 Districts
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