In the Fall of 2006, Education Resource Strategies (ERS) was invited by Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) to study the use of resources in the district and create priority recommendations to inform the district’s strategic plan. Saint Paul is in a situation where overall enrollment is declining while key subgroups (students in poverty, English language learners, students with disabilities, and students of color) are increasing as a percentage of district enrollment.
Our key recommendations included:
- To the extent possible, model the provision of special education services after the highly successful “pull-in” flexible grouping model used by Saint Paul’s English Language Learner program. This will require the cross-certification of some resource teachers and a new professional development strategy for all of them.
- Foster accountability for the strategic use of school-level resources by clearly defining standards for school-level instruction and resource use including professional development, providing models of effective school organization (that specify practices such as flexible grouping and bell schedules), creating regular reports that review key resource metrics, and working closely with principals to ensure understanding and implementation. Integrate the accountability system with the school improvement planning process and with supervision and evaluation of principals and teachers.
- Provide training and tools for principals and assistant principals regarding instruction and the strategic use of resources that are aligned with the accountability system and school models introduced in the new accountability system.
- Develop a district-wide professional development strategy that aligns resources to address district priorities while adjusting for school level needs and performance and that includes teams of teachers using formative assessments in weekly collaborative planning. The district needs to increase spending on expert content and/or pedagogical support for each teacher.
Toward a Strategic Use of Resources in Saint Paul Public Schools (PDF)