|Of schools planned to extend the reach of excellent teachers|
|Of schools planned to have 90+ minutes of weekly collaborative time for teams|
|Of schools planned to increase time and/or attention strategy for highest need students|
ERS has partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) on a series of projects since 2008. We have worked with leadership teams to monitor, analyze, and assess how resources are used across the district, and we have become trusted advisors and thought-partners to the district leaders. Our analyses have contributed to the development and evolution of many of the district’s key programs—including the strategic school design effort discussed in the story below.
In 2014, the CMS leadership team decided to target strategic school design in a new way. Based on the ERS Strategic Resource Map results, CMS identified clear opportunities for shifting school-based resources that would likely lead to overall improvements in student performance. For example, they sought to intensify individual attention during the 6th grade transition year; they also worked with leaders to better differentiate resources more for struggling students; and they wanted to increase expert support as a cost-effective step to improve student performance through middle and high school.
Succeeding in these kinds of school design improvements at scale, however, required a decentralized strategy, where the district equips school leaders with the support and tools they need to make sustainable and effective change. That means the district needs to provide accurate, relevant data, along with the guidance and time necessary to leverage that data into strategic action.
In addition to the original Strategic Resource Map and subsequent resource analyses, ERS supported the CMS strategic school design effort to be more than a school-by-school strategy. Our work both targeted school leaders’ capacity to improve their schools while simultaneously ensuring that district leaders were prepared to implement the enabling conditions necessary for each school’s success. This included:
From 2009-2011, ERS worked with the district to evolve and expand its Strategic Staffing Initiative (SSI), a school turnaround strategy that places strong principals with a team of highly effective teachers and administrators at low-performing schools. ERS provided SSI principals with data analysis, research, case studies, and trainings. From 2013-2016, ERS partnered with Public Impact to support CMS on the Student Success by Design Collaborative. This effort integrated several ideas behind strategic school design: helping school leaders implement a teacher leadership model, allowing teachers to reach more students, and supporting teacher efforts to advance their careers with additional pay for taking on additional responsibilities. Leaders from 17 schools received training on how to identify school priorities; they also created updated school plans with resource strategies to address those priorities. The initiative continues to grow, now with more than 31 participating schools.
ERS developed School-Level Resource Use Reports for every school in the district. These reports help principals reflect on their current resource use and enable them to make more strategic resource decisions. Each three- to five-page report synthesizes key data on teacher effectiveness, student performance, teacher load, and use of time and money across classes.
ERS created an E-Book of 19 School Design Strategies for Middle Schools. This resource was specifically tailored to the CMS context, documenting promising strategies and implementation resources for middle school grades that can address the challenges presented from CMS’ five key focus areas.
Many CMS schools continue to provide examples of best practice for schools around the country as showcased in the ERS mini documentaries below. Although they still face many challenges, these schools are improving. In 2017, CMS 8th grade math performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) ranked first in NAEP’s urban district group called Trial of Urban District Assessments (TUDA). And in 2011, CMS also won the prestigious Broad Prize, which honors large urban school districts that show the greatest academic performance improvement while reducing achievement gaps.
Outcomes specific to the ERS support for strategic school design include: