Alabama Low-Performing Schools Performance Management and Planning


SECC staff will support ALSDE staff as they provide professional development in the use of Alastar, Alabama's Indistar, for SIG Cohort 2 schools as well as other districts/schools designated as low-performing.

This project is in the following state: Alabama.

This project relates to the following ED Priorities:

  • Turning around the lowest-performing schools
  • Using data-based decision-making to improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes

Related work:
REL Southeast
Improving Low-Performing Schools

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Previous Work Updates

2016

September

The ALSDE SIG coordinator requested support from SECC to include an automated scoring system for the SIG LEA application rubric that will be used in the process of awarding FY17 SIG funds to schools competing for the grant. To augment the current rubric developed in Excel, SECC’s research and evaluation expert, Pam Bonsu, developed a survey form using Adobe to help streamline usability of the rubric. The rubric was implemented on September 20–22 as individuals selected by the SEA began the review process. SECC project staff member, Heidi Goertzen, attended the first 2 days of the review to provide technical assistance and support. SIG awards will be determined by early October. The ALSDE SIG coordinator and a SECC staff member held a planning conference call on September 30 to draft a facilitators agenda for a sustainability work session designed for SIG schools, which is scheduled for October 18–19. This training will follow up on the MEGA conference session held last July in which SIG school teams engaged in a sustainability training. Next steps are to flesh out the activities planned and develop the materials needed.

August

On August 8, the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) and Alabama State Department of Education held a brief conference call to discuss progress made on an application rubric, codeveloped by SECC and ALSDE, to score local education agencies competing for School Improvement Grants. SECC staff designed the LEA rubric and met with ALSDE staff to finalize the rubric before developing a version for use on Microsoft SharePoint, a web-based platform. The last steps entailed formatting the rubric and revising the indicator rating definitions to better align with the indicators. During the call, the team determined that more time was needed to complete the revisions and set up a follow-up meeting. On August 18, the project team held an in-depth virtual meeting to review and refine each rating definition and made final adjustments to the rubric format. Initially, ALSDE planned to submit the LEA rubric to Information Systems, housed within ALSDE, however; due to a lack of time to convert the rubric to an electronic form, SECC will finalize the Microsoft Excel version for use by the SIG LEA application reviewers.

July

On July 12, project team members from SECC, RMC Research Corporation (SECC subcontractor), Center on Innovations in Learning, and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) presented a workshop titled “Sustainable Practices for School Improvement Grant (SIG) Schools” at the annual ALSDE MEGA Conference in Mobile. On July 13, the team presented a modified version of the session to suit a smaller group and opened up participation for any Alabama district personnel interested in learning about sustainable turnaround practices. During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to discuss their roles with their counterparts from other districts, share successes and challenges, learn about research-based sustainability practices and indicators, and plan for next steps that lead to sustainable practices for low-performing schools. SECC staff supported the SEA by assisting with the development and analysis of an electronic evaluation survey. The team’s next steps are to begin planning for SIG school workshop in October.   During the first week of July, SECC staff continued collaborating with the SIG coordinator at ALSDE to support the work of developing an LEA SIG application for FY17 funds. The project team revised the rubric rating definitions to strengthen the alignment with the rubric indictors. Next steps are for the SIG coordinator to review and refine the revisions.  

June

On June 1, project team members from SECC, RMC Research Corporation, Center on Innovations in Learning, and ALSDE continued planning for the MEGA Conference session on Sustainability, which will be held in Mobile July 11–15. During this meeting, the planning team agreed on revisions to the agenda that include expanded time for school teams to examine their own data and find areas of need. The team also used this planning time to confirm roles and responsibilities on the day of the session. On June 23, SECC staff sent a draft of the online evaluation survey of the conference session to the project team to provide feedback by June 28.   The School Improvement Grants (SIG) coordinator attended the national Talent for Turnaround conference held in Houston, Texas, on June 15-17. At the convening SECC project staff facilitated state team discussions regarding plans for providing students in low performing schools with access to high quality teachers and leaders.   On June 24, SECC staff met with the ALSDE SIG coordinator to refine and revise the FY 2017 SIG Local Education Agency (LEA) application rubric. ALSDE will use this scoring rubric to determine which LEAs will be awarded the SIG FY 2017 funds. During the meeting, the scoring system was revised to align with the SIG LEA Application. Additionally, the weights of each component of the rubric were revisited to ensure each was properly factored into or weighted for the grand total score. Next steps are to make final revisions in preparation for a meeting the SIG coordinator will have with ALSDE Educational Technology (Ed Tech) staff. The Ed Tech staff will convert the rubric (currently in Microsoft Excel) into an electronic document, which can be completed by applicants via Microsoft SharePoint. The SIG coordinator indicated that the LEA SIG application will released to LEAs in late July 2016. Applications will be submitted by September 2016 and final decisions by ALSDE will be made in October 2016.

May

SECC staff met with ALSDE staff twice in May via conference call to discuss the codevelopment of a SIG LEA application rubric in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement of 1003(g) School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding for FY 2015–16. During the team’s first conference call on May 12, they discussed the resources shared in April that summarize other states’ approaches to SIG 1003(g) application rubrics. ALSDE used those resources to generate ideas for the development of the rubric. During this meeting, SECC staff used an online platform to walk the SEA through a draft of the rubric and to identify which indicators and scoring protocols could be implemented. After the meeting, SECC staff formatted the rubric with key indicators identified by the SEA, and they tested various scoring protocols that they could share with the state during the next conference call. On May 19 the team reconvened virtually to continue developing the LEA SIG application rubric. During this time, the team refined the rubric by determining how to divide the criteria into meaningful sections for scoring. After the call, SECC made respective changes to the rubric and sent it to the SEA for feedback on May 23. The next step for the team is to schedule another conference call so the SEA can provide input and feedback on the latest iteration.

April

On March 29, the U.S. Department of Education announced availability of FY 2015 and FY 2016 1003(g) SIG funds. ALSDE plans to apply and requested support from SECC with the codevelopment of a SIG evaluation rubric for evaluating LEA SIG grant applications, a part of the SEA application process. On April 15, ALSDE and SECC staff met via conference call to discuss the work. As a result, SECC staff compiled resources from other state applications into a matrix and shared it with the SEA to review and consider possible design approaches. Next steps are to arrange a conference call in early May to discuss feedback on the resources and determine a framework for the LEA SIG evaluation rubric. A second conference call was scheduled on April 15 to continue planning for the ALSDE summer MEGA conference session on SIG and sustainability. Project team members from SECC, ALSDE, and Indistar fleshed out the agenda, providing possible time slots for each session activity. Next steps are to discuss these plans with SECC’s RMC Research Corporation partners, as they will be involved in the conference presentation. A planning call is scheduled for May 5.

March

Funding for the School Improvement Grant program will be reallocated to Title I under the Every Student Succeeds Act. SIG grantees must now consider how to maximize the current resources while operating without the structure of the SIG program. As a result, the Alabama State Department of Education is planning a conference session on sustainability for SIG schools at its annual MEGA Conference in July. In March, staff from the Center on Innovations in Learning and SECC were unable to meet with ALSDE staff but will schedule another planning conference call for early to mid-April to resume planning for the summer training. Additionally, SECC project staff will gather evidence-based resources and tools from organizations and centers such as the Center for School Turnaround. The literature on sustainability will complement a professional learning module on sustainability that will be presented by collaborating partner, RMC Research Corporation, during the conference session. The evidence-based practices identified by SECC will support ALSDE as it works with SIG grantees to develop steps toward sustainability during the upcoming school year.

February

A collaborative planning meeting was held on February 9, which included project staff from the ALSDE School Improvement Grant office, Indistar, RMC Research Corporation, and SECC. During the meeting, the team reviewed progress made toward planning for the ALSDE MEGA Conference session on sustainability for SIG schools, which will be held July 2016 in Mobile. The team met several planning objectives, including defining sustainability, designing a possible session format, outlining session activities, and reviewing resources to support each session activity. A second planning meeting was held February 26 to continue planning for the conference session. During this meeting, the team discussed using an evidence-based resource on sustainability developed by RMC to support some of the session activities. The team’s next steps are to map out times for the agenda and determine roles and responsibilities. A scheduling poll will be disseminated for a planning meeting in late March.

January

Project staff from SECC, the Center on Innovation and Improvement, RMC Research Corporation, and ALSDE held three planning calls in January in preparation for the 2016 MEGA Conference (MEGA) hosted by ALSDE in Mobile. On January 11, Dr. Karen Anderson, SIG coordinator, expressed interest in planning two sessions for MEGA. The first session, designed primarily for SIG grantees, would prepare participants to make use of evidence-based practices to develop and implement steps for sustainability after SIG grant funding ends. The second session will address how to develop effective Alabama Continuous Improvement Plan goals. The SIG coordinator’s next steps were to discuss these proposed conference sessions with other SEA staff members and share outcomes from those conversations with the project team on January 25, the next planning call. Toward that end, SECC and CII staff held a planning call on January 14 to discuss processes for this next planning meeting with the SEA. As a result, they drafted a preliminary agenda for the January 25 meeting and shared it with the SEA SIG team for input. On January 25, SECC and CII project staff met with ALSDE SIG staff to develop outcomes for the 2016 MEGA Conference session on sustainability for SIG schools. The team generated four training outcomes and considered how to support schools after the MEGA Conference. The facilitators will ask schools or participants to document next steps when completing the training evaluation survey. The information will be used to follow up with schools in Fall 2016. The team also discussed the possibility of developing a training implementation survey to determine the extent to which SIG teams are employing training outcomes. The team’s next steps are to codevelop an abstract and facilitators’ agenda for the MEGA Conference session on February 9.

2015

December

SECC, Indistar, and ALSDE project staff met via conference call on December 18 to discuss plans for follow-up training to the fall SIG school training where schools explored the integration of the continuous improvement plan with Alastar processes. The training in spring was tentatively scheduled for February 2016; however, many of the SIG schools will be undergoing an audit with AdvanceEd during that time and they will need to prepare. As a result, the project team determined that they would include two 3-hour repeat sessions at the state’s annual MEGA conference in July. The team’s next steps are to begin planning in January for the summer training sessions.

November

During the SECC/TXCC 2015 regional institute held in Atlanta this month, the ALSDE SIG/School Turnaround coordinator requested information from SECC staff related to research and evidence- based strategies that align with two school turnaround principles, leadership and instruction. Alabama SIG staff selected these two principles based on the perceived needs of schools and districts they serve. SECC staff reviewed and collected salient resources, including reports, briefs, research studies, and websites pertaining to this topic then compiled them into a draft document, which they presented during a virtual meeting on November 20. The team plans to continue reviewing, collecting, and annotating more resources related to leadership and instruction, and possibly expanding the compilation to include all eight school turnaround principles.  

October

SECC, ALSDE, and Indistar staff participated in a collaborative planning meeting on October 7 to prepare for an upcoming Alastar training for SIG schools. The purpose of the call was to discuss objectives and plan activities for the training that focus on the alignment between the school Continuous Improvement Plans (CIPs) and Alastar. The team also made plans to survey participants about this topic for planning purposes, and they developed an electronic survey for evaluating the training. The SIG training was scheduled for October 22 and 23 in Birmingham and Montgomery, respectively. Entitled “Your School Improvement Journey”, the training gave principals, Alastar process managers, and district leaders the opportunity to consider resources and tools needed to achieve their vision for their school. As such, school teams reviewed the Indistar online resources and worked on aligning their achievement and organizational goals from their CIPs with research-based Alastar indicators. The school teams left with skills and tools needed to refine plans and action steps for implementing their research-based strategies.

September

In late August or early September, the SECC team co-developed with Dr. Karen Anderson at ALSDE a rubric the education agency used in rating and scoring schools’ applications for continuation of SIG funding. On September 25, the SECC team participated in a conference call meeting with Karen Anderson and Christine Spear at ALSDE to debrief on the implementation of the scoring rubric and to discuss the need for more TA with Alastar training for SIG schools and respective training evaluation. During the call, Karen Anderson scheduled a collaborative planning meeting for October 7 with Stephanie Benedict of the Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL), and the team decided to co-develop a brief needs survey for SIG schools to support the planning process. The SIG school Alastar training sessions are slated for October 22 and 23 in Birmingham and Montgomery, respectively. The team’s next steps are to develop the short needs survey and to begin co-planning for the upcoming Alastar training and related follow-up activities.

August

Dr. Karen Anderson of the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) contacted the SECC team in early August to request assistance with developing a rubric that ALSDE can use in rating and scoring schools’ applications for continuation of School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. The SECC team met with Dr. Anderson several times to discuss the logistics and content of the rubric. The SECC team and Dr. Anderson worked together to develop a comprehensive rubric that covered all sections of the application. In addition, the SECC team provided Dr. Anderson with recommendations on persons that ALSDE could utilize to score the applications, ideas on the scoring criteria, and how the applications should be scored (i.e., two or more individuals scoring one application, examining inter-rater reliability, and transparency in how the rubrics were applied to each application). In late August/early September, the SECC team will meet with Dr. Anderson to finalize the Year 4 work plan.

July

The SECC team met with the SECC advisory board contact, Sheryl Parris, who informed them that support for the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) going forward needs to focus on research and development activities and supporting the ALSDE Research Department. SECC staff are attempting to schedule a follow-up meeting with ALSDE staff to get a clear work plan in place within the scope of what is allowed under the comprehensive center’s agreement. SECC staff learned that a key staff member in the Office of Student Learning, Julie Hanna, is leaving ALSDE. The SECC team will continue to reach out to Dr. Karen Anderson via email and phone and when staffing changes are complete and will update the Year 3/Year 4 work plan.

April

The SECC team contacted Dr. Karen Anderson, our colleague at the Alabama Department of Education, to check in and offer support. The SECC team will continue to reach out to Dr. Anderson via email and phone.

March

During the Indistar Summit, SEDL staff Heidi Goertzen and Angelica Herrera met with Karen Anderson of the ALSDE. Dr. Herrera and Goertzen received Dr. Anderson’s feedback on the Year 3 Work Plan for Alabama’s low-performing schools and made the requested revisions to the plan. Dr. Herrera and Goertzen discussed with Dr. Anderson the education department’s needs. Dr. Anderson mentioned that ALSDE did not currently need additional assistance. She anticipated that in the fall she would like Dr. Herrera and Goertzen to assist with providing workshops to school staff on sustaining school improvement efforts.

February

In February, Heidi Goertzen, SECC program associate, and Dr. Angelica Herrera, SEDL research associate, had several meetings about the Year 3 Work Plan. Revisions were made, and Dr. Herrera emailed the document to Dr. Karen Anderson at ALSDE. SECC staff will meet with ALSDE staff at the Indistar Summit, March 16–18, to receive feedback on the revised work plan and to determine if the agency has approved SECC’s proposed workshop on sustaining school improvement efforts to be held during ALSDE’s MEGA Conference in June.

January

Karen Anderson, the SIG Program Coordinator, requested SECC’s assistance in planning and developing a workshop on sustaining school improvement efforts. The workshop will be held during ALSDE’s Mega Conference in July, 2015. SECC prepared a description and outline of the workshop and shared it with Dr. Anderson. She also requested help with researching and developing rubrics and tools state and school staff can use for monitoring improvement efforts at SIG, Priority, and Focus schools. SECC shared with Dr. Anderson a list of rubrics, tools, and information she and her team could use in developing a school improvement rubric.

2014

December

SECC staff have started planning with the Alabama State Department of Education and Academic Development Institute (ADI) staff on preparing a presentation or training on school improvement sustainability that will take place during the Alabama Mega Conference in Summer 2015.

November

SECC staff analyzed data from a survey conducted with participants on their perceptions of the training that SECC, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), and the Center on Innovations in Learning staff provided on using AlaStar (Indistar). SECC staff collaborated with ALSDE staff to develop a report on the survey findings. In addition, SECC shared resources (i.e., online reports and publications) with ALSDE that discussed how SEAs, districts, and schools could sustain improvement efforts when SIG funding ends. One of the reports was an SECC Information Request.

October

SECC, Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), and Academic Development Institute staff collaborated this month to develop and implement two one-day training sessions for new and existing School Improvement Grant (SIG) school principals, process managers, and district coordinators on using AlaStar (Indistar). The regional training sessions served as refreshers for school and district staff to learn about updates to the AlaStar system. SECC cofacilitated the training and developed a survey for the participants to complete after the sessions about their perceptions of the training. SECC will analyze the survey data and collaborate with ALSDE staff on preparing a report on the survey findings.

September

SECC and the Center on Innovations and Learning staff collaborated in September in preparation for an upcoming Alastar training for School Improvement Grant (SIG) school principals, process managers, and district coordinators. The regional workshop is scheduled for late October.

August

Stephanie Benedict from the Center on Innovations and Learning and Heidi Goertzen, SECC program associate, met with the new School Improvement Grant (SIG) coordinator at the Alabama State Department of Education in late August to support her work with Alastar and the SIG program. The SIG coaches joined the meeting on the first day to provide updates and needs regarding their SIG schools and the use of Alastar, and the team scheduled a regional training for SIG principals, process managers, and district coordinators on October 28–29.

July

SECC provided family engagement technical assistance workshops, Engaging Parents Beyond Fundraisers and PTO!, at the ALSDE statewide Mega Conference held the week of July 14. The workshops, designed for program practitioners and administrators, introduced a new framework for family engagement highlighting research-based strategies and innovative practices used to work collaboratively with families to promote student academic achievement and healthy development. A copy of SEDL’s new publication, Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships, was provided to workshop attendees.

April

Alabama staff has indicated that no support for the turnaround work is needed at the current time.

February

SECC staff contacted the educator administrator in the ALSDE School Turnaround Program to seek assistance regarding two key topics related to school improvement for SECC Information Requests resulting from the November 2013 SECC/TXCC regional school improvement institute. ALSDE provided information on how it plans to sustain initiatives, practices, and/or focus in schools and districts after funding ends. Information also was provided on ALSDE’s approach to supporting SIG schools and districts.

January

The SECC staff provided information on the November 2013 Supporting Sustainability Efforts in School Turnaround regional institute to the SECC Advisory Board.

2013

December

In December, SECC staff provided follow-up to the November 2013 Supporting Sustainability Efforts in School Turnaround regional institute by sharing the institute website with links to the agenda, presenter and facilitator information, session descriptions, and presentations and handouts. Staff from SECC and ALSDE also presented School Improvement Grant (SIG) districts and schools with a one-day professional development training on SIG Family Engagement. The training occurred in Montgomery, with repeat sessions provided on 2 days for SIG Cohorts I and II. Participants included superintendents, federal program coordinators, counselors, principals, parent liaisons, and parents. School teams had the opportunity to discuss and reflect on family engagement practices as well as revisit the Title I Parental Involvement requirements and toolkit.

November

Eight Alabama State Department of Education staff members participated as an Alabama team in SECC and TXCC’s regional institute, Supporting Sustainability Efforts in School Turnaround, on November 6–7, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Alabama team members actively participated in the various institute’s sessions, namely the four plenaries, the role-alike discussions, and the five Conversations with Experts, and met extensively as a team to work on ways to incorporate information they learned during the institute into their daily work with Alabama’s schools and districts.

October

The ALSDE will be sending a team to the upcoming SECC/TXCC school turnaround sustainability institute, which is scheduled for November 6 and 7, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

September

The ALSDE and SECC staff participated as an Alabama team in the USDE’s Office of School Turnaround/Center on School Turnaround’s symposium, The State Role in Leading School Turnaround, on September 25–26, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia. During the symposium, SECC staff facilitated the concurrent session, The Role of School Boards in Turnaround. Also, ALSDE and SECC staff discussed the need for additional sustainability work with the School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools. No additional technical assistance is needed at this time, but ALSDE staff stated that the SECC will be contacted when the need arises. SECC staff also participated in the regional comprehensive center’s pre-convening meeting on September 24, 2013.

July

SECC and RMC staff facilitated the SIG Sustaining Improvement Efforts professional development for Alabama's SIG Cohort 2 schools on July 26, 2013. During the session, participants strengthened their understanding of intentionally promoting and extending successful improvement efforts and reflected on the progress made in implementing their SIG plans. The full-day professional development culminated with each SIG school identifying its successful SIG components and developing strategies for sustaining those components when federal SIG funds are no longer available. SECC and the Academic Development Institute (ADI) staff met with ALSDE coaches for SIG schools in a full-day session on coaching processes and strategies on July 10, 2013. Coaches received strategies for monitoring SIG schools and practiced providing feedback to schools on Alastar entries using best practice resources. On July 11, SECC and ADI staff met with ALSDE staff to continue to develop and/or revise monitoring tools and guidelines for low-performing schools and districts.

June

SECC and the Alabama Department of Education (ALSDE) communicated regarding the handouts for the July 26 SIG sustainability training. Feedback from ALSDE was incorporated into the final documents. SECC and RMC staff collaborated to finalize preparations for the SIG sustainability training. Information regarding Indistar's new Flag to Assess feature was also provided to ALSDE. A meeting date for July was set with ALSDE to revise tools as needed, develop guidelines for low-performing schools and districts, and work with ALSDE coaches on monitoring processes and strategies. SECC and staff from ADI collaborated on the development of the content for the coaching session.

May

On May 21, SECC and ALSDE staff participated in a conference call to plan Alabama's SIG Cohort 2 sustainability training, to be conducted July 26. Information regarding the content, participants, logistics, and necessary follow-up were discussed. All planning information was submitted to ALSDE staff for their review and feedback.

April

SECC staff facilitated a session on April 4 for Alabama's School Improvement Grant (SIG) Cohort 2 districts and schools in the use of Alastar (Alabama's version of Indistar) as a continuous improvement process. The session introduced the participants to the features of Alastar and to best practice resources and strategies for providing "quality" entries into the Alastar system with respect to indicator assessments and plans. SECC staff working on the low-performing schools project attended the Indistar Summit. The summit provided networking opportunities with other states using the Indistar system and updates on new features of the system.

March

SECC staff held a work session with ALSDE staff and coaches on February 21–22. The session with coaches focused on developing their expertise in Alastar, the online performance management system in place for monitoring progress of the state's low- performing schools. The coach session also included an emphasis on how to increase the quality of district and school assessments of indicator progress and plans for achieving full indicator implementation. The work session with ALSDE staff resulted in a revised set of improvement indicators, examples of evidence of indicator implementation, and preliminary work on indicators, rubrics, and improvement expectations to be disseminated by ALSDE staff to districts and schools. A workshop on sustainability is scheduled for March 7, and a session for Cohort 2 SIG schools is scheduled for April 4.

January

SECC staff held a phone conference with ALSDE staff to discuss needs for sustaining effective practices of the first cohort of SIG schools and for providing support around the use of Indistar as a continuous improvement process for SIG Cohort 2 schools. Meetings were scheduled for providing support in these areas with a sustainability workshop planned for March 7 and a session on Indistar and improvement strategies planned for April 4. A work session is also scheduled for February 21–22 with ALSDE staff and coaches to review and refine monitoring tools and processes.