Student Success Sustainability


North Carolina's RttT award enabled the NCDPI to build on the success of its turnaround efforts and create the Turning Around the Lowest Achieving Schools (TALAS) initiative. SECC will assist NCDPI in assessing the effectiveness of the components of that initiative and developing a plan to sustain the initiative beyond 2015.

Formally known as the Race to the Top (RttT) Sustainability

Impact Story

Boosting North Carolina School Turnaround Efforts

This project is in the following state: North Carolina.

This project relates to the following ED Priorities:

  • Turning around the lowest-performing schools
  • Identifying and scaling up innovative approaches to teaching and learning that significantly improve student outcomes
  • Using data-based decision-making to improve instructional practices, policies, and student outcomes
  • Building rigorous instructional pathways that support the successful transition of all students from Secondary education to college without the need for remediation, and careers

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Previous Work Updates

2016

September

SECC staff continued work with NCDPI staff supporting virtual public charter schools to schedule interviews with virtual charter school administrators and focus groups with their board members. They also partnered with NCDPI staff to work with the charter schools to encourage participation in the parent and student surveys that were open for most of September. SECC staff met with NCDPI staff to discuss data needs for the summary reports of 2015–2016 school data for the virtual public charter schools and met with NCDPI staff to discuss preliminary parent and student survey results and reporting needs. In other work, SECC staff participated with NCDPI staff in a “Getting Better Together” webinar sponsored by Indistar on September 15.  This webinar provided information regarding new technologies that have proven effective as tools to support school improvement efforts.

August

SECC staff forwarded two documents to NCDPI staff: “How to Serve Rural Schools: Listen” to NCDPI (August 1) and “How Can States Approach Chronically Low-Performing Schools” (August 12).  During the August 4 meeting with NCDPI leadership, SECC staff provided an overview of the activities for Year 4 along with priorities for Year 5. SECC staff also conducted three meetings in August with the virtual public charter school team to plan and review parent and student surveys and to prepare and review an interview protocol for virtual public charter administrator and board members. In addition, a member of the SECC team has made progress on the quantitative data request and has drafted a summary of the 2015–2016 data from the virtual public charter schools as outlined in the evaluation plan.

July

On July 5, SECC staff sent the Year 5 planning document to SEA staff for their update on progress and impact of the Year 4 technical assistance and to identify TA needed for the upcoming project year.  SECC staff forwarded the REL Central webinar titled How to Support Chronically Low-Performing Schools to NCDPI staff.  SECC staff also participated in an Indistar Update Session -Getting Better Together along with NCDPI staff.  North Carolina staff shared information on the state’s Priority and Focus Schools and other state schools participating in NC STAR. SECC staff also held a phone conference meeting with the virtual charter school NCDPI staff and board members to review and revise survey and other data collection instruments for the project evaluation.

June

On June 3, SECC staff provided NCDPI staff from Federal Programs and Monitoring an Excel document with information on the alignment of NCSTAR and AdvancEd indicators. The alignment document unpacked each indicator and identified potential gaps that might need to be addressed by the SEA. A conference call was held on June 9, to receive additional feedback on the alignment document and to discuss next steps in technical assistance. Following a careful review of the document, NCDPI indicated that the support provided was excellent and would allow their staff the ability to fashion the information in various formats to support school improvement efforts.

May

On May 20, SECC staff held a conference call with Alessandro Montanari, NCDPI school improvement planning coordinator, to discuss a request for an alignment document to assist NC Star schools in their school improvement planning. The document will align the NC Star indicators with the AdvancED indicators used for school accreditation.  A spreadsheet with the indicator alignment will be available for NCDPI review by June 6. NCDPI will be responsible for the actual document design. SECC staff continued moving forward with survey instruments and interview protocol questions for the virtual school project.

April

The REL Southeast lead worked with the NCDPI staff to further the process for application for student data for the charter school project. SECC staff members met about drafts of teacher, parent, and student surveys for the charter schools to use in Fall 2016 and to discuss possible next steps in the implementation of evaluation plan strategies.

March

The SECC team continued its work with the memoranda of understanding for data request for NCDPI and preparation of teacher, parent, and student surveys for the charter schools to use in Fall 2016.

February

Four SECC staff and an REL Southeast staff member held a teleconference with the Interim Director of the NCDPI Office of Charter Schools, Adam Levinson, to verify items in the Virtual Charter and Dropout Prevent Charter School evaluation plans that the team developed. The team also confirmed the data request procedures that were necessary to follow for obtaining student- level data as part of the evaluation plan. The Information Request about virtual and alternative charter school programs had just been released to NCDPI staff and, after a quick review of the IR, the team made plans to discuss how the research-based and emerging promising practices could impact the decisions for evaluating these types of schools.

January

In collaboration with SECC staff, REL SE staff developed evaluation plans and together presented the plan options and obtained feedback from NCDPI leaders about the Virtual Charter School and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Charter School projects. The staffs continue to fine tune and prioritize the evaluation plans.

2015

December

SECC staff met with the REL Southeast staff to draft an evaluation plan for the Virtual Charter School and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Charter School projects. The staffs also scheduled a January 2016 telephone conference with NCDPI leaders to discuss and prioritize the evaluation plans for 2016.  

November

SECC staff, in partnership with the REL Southeast, met with NCDPI leaders at the agency to discuss the details of the Virtual Charter School and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Charter Schools and plan the evaluations of the projects. The team was able to discuss and prioritize possible evaluation questions and decide the roles for the coming year.  

October

SECC staff and NCDPI leaders met to discuss ways of developing agency capacity to evaluate virtual charter school and alternative charter school programs. NCDPI leadership described the tools and data collection processes they had in place for part of the data collection they required and then described the other evaluation needs they had. Plans were made for the staffs to meet to further develop a logic model and evaluation plan for the two projects.

September

SECC staff communicated with the NCDPI director of Federal Program and Monitoring Division and the School Improvement Grants/Priority School coordinator on September 23 to schedule a time to discuss the Year 4 work plan for the project. When the conference time is set, SECC staff and NCDPI staff will review work plan activities to determine their appropriateness and make any adjustments necessary.

August

On August 17, SECC staff communicated with the director of Federal Program and Monitoring Division and the School Improvement Grants/Priority School coordinator to share the Year 4 planning document and to request updates on the current project and information on technical assistance requests to be included in the Year 4 Work Plan. During a follow-up phone call, SECC staff shared information about the upcoming Year 4 planning meeting with NCDPI directors and discussed how the planning process would proceed following that meeting.

July

In July, SECC staff communicated with the director of Federal Programs and Monitoring Division and the section chief for K–12 Program Areas to request information regarding attendance at a federal programs meeting scheduled for late July. A webinar invitation was forwarded for “District Readiness for School Turnaround” sponsored by West Ed. In addition, “Sustaining State and District Reforms–Tools, Resources, and Lessons Learned” webinar information was distributed to the District and School Transformation administrator and the School Improvement Grants/priority school coordinator. An Information Request titled, “State Differentiated Levels of Instructional Support,” was also provided to SEA staff in the Division of Federal Programs and Monitoring Division and the Turning Around Lowest Achieving Schools (TALAS) division.

June

On June 15–16, SECC staff participated with NCDPI staff from School Improvement Grants/priority schools, the program manager for District and School Transformation, the instructional review coach for District and School Transformation, and the school improvement coordinator to review the Year 3 plans for SIG Cohort III schools. During the Panel Review process, each SIG school shared information regarding the Year 2 successes and failures, significant school data, and plans for Year 3 including how they plan to sustain effective practices at the end of the grant.

May

On May 5, 2015 SECC staff reviewed and provided feedback on a data collection tool to be used as a part of the 2015–2016 review process. The team also provided the SEA a draft agenda along with the presentation and handouts for the planned professional development (PD) day. SECC staff responded to a request from NCDPI staff from the School Improvement Grants/priority schools to participate in the SIG Panel Reviews scheduled for June 15–17. On May 14, SECC staff provided a half-day PD session to SIG school teams entitled Continuing the Commitment: Sustaining Program Outcomes. SECC staff also participated in a second half-day session to review the revised Panel Review process and Year 3 budgeting requirements. Feedback from the training was reviewed on May 21 to determine themes that might inform future needs and topics.

April

On April 8, NCDPI staff from the School Improvement Grants (SIG)/Priority Schools area requested SECC staff’s participation in the 2015 SIG Panel Reviews scheduled for June 15–17. SECC staff worked with SEA staff to review and refine the panel review process and to determine the data to be requested from the SIG schools. A meeting with SIG schools is scheduled for May 14. During the morning session, SIG schools and their leadership teams will receive professional development designed to assist them in making decisions that will lead to the sustainability of effective programs and practices. The afternoon will introduce the SIG teams to the new panel review process and provide them an opportunity to begin planning for the June panel presentations. They will also receive guidance on preparing for the final Year 3 fiscal budget, Indistar updates, and SIG-funded personnel.

March

NCDPI staff from the School Improvement Grants (SIG)/Priority Schools areas provided panel review documents and other requirements for Cohort III Schools for the past 2 years to assist SECC staff in developing a draft for the 2015–2016 Panel Review Process, including guiding questions. On March 26, SECC staff provided a document that merged 2014 and 2015 panel review questions with new questions for the 2015–2016 panel review process and beyond. The document offered a PowerPoint template that would provide accountability and more consistency in the presentations made by SIG Cohort III Schools. The SEA team was asked to review the document and select the questions they would like included in the panel review process for the 2015–2016 school year. Additionally, SECC staff worked with NCDPI staff to schedule a professional development day for SIG Cohort III Schools to provide information about sustainability and to share information regarding the revised Panel Review Process for 2015–2016.

February

On February 13, SECC staff and the director of Federal Program and Monitoring Support Division, the School Improvement Grants/Priority Schools coordinator, the School Transformation program manager, and the coach for District and School Transformation participated in a conference call to preview the Sustainability 101 session and to discuss the new panel review process for Cohort III SIG school and district leaders. In addition to previewing the sustainability professional development and clarifying the focus for the presentation, the panel discussed a draft plan for the spring meeting. The NCDPI agreed to provide the panel with review documents and other requirements of Cohort III schools for the past 2 years and the QSPR monitoring document to SECC staff to ensure any planned changes were aligned with preexisting structures.

January

On January 28, 2015 SECC staff had a face-to-face meeting with the Director of Federal Program and Monitoring Support Division, the School Improvement Grants/Priority Schools Coordinator, and the Program Manager for District and School Transformation at NCDPI. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the development of a process to increase the capacity of SIG schools and districts to examine the use of school improvement funds with an emphasis on effective practice and sustainability. NCDPI staff requested that the process designed be integrated with Indistar and with SEA reporting requirements. SECC staff will develop a list of guiding questions to inform a new format for the upcoming panel reviews scheduled for this spring and identify evidence/data recommended for that process. A Sustainability 101 session will be scheduled for the month of March for Cohort III SIG school and district leaders where the new panel review process will be introduced. A conference call with SECC staff and NCDPI staff has been scheduled for Friday, February 13, 2015 to provide a preview of the Sustainability 101 session and to continue to plan for the new panel review process.

2014

December

SECC staff participated in a project team meeting on December 9, 2014, to discuss data provided by state education agency staff to be considered in the development of a process to conduct a resource analysis to inform decisions made by schools receiving School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds. The analysis could potentially identify the costs and benefits of such strategies. The team determined that a meeting to share available tools used in sustainability training and planning would be helpful. The SECC team would assist NCDPI in modifying the tools to develop a process that each school receiving SIG funds could use to increase its capacity to examine decision making. SECC staff contacted NCDPI staff to schedule a time for a face-to-face meeting to share information and discuss next steps.

November

On November 19, SECC staff facilitated a meeting with SEA staff from NCDPI and SEA staff from the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE). The meeting was attended by the director of the Federal Monitoring Support Division, the School Improvement Grant/Priority School coordinator, the District and School Transformation lead, program manager for District and School Transformation, and the assistant director for District and School Transformation from NCDPI. In addition, staff from the Office of School Transformation and the Lead for School Transformation, SIG/Priority/Focus and Choice director were in attendance. The meeting was scheduled at the request of SCDE staff to gather information regarding models of school improvement, comprehensive needs assessments, coaching strategies and protocols, and the use of Indistar. An additional meeting was held to request information from NCDPI staff to identify possible data available for the SIG resource analysis that is part of the sustainability planning in the Year 3 project.

October

During October, SECC staff had a face-to-face meeting with the director of Federal Program Monitoring Support Division, the School Improvement Grants/Priority Schools coordinator, and the Indistar client relations director to discuss the Year 3 work plan. The group discussed the activities outlined in the plan and determined that the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) activity will probably be rolled out over a three-year- period and will not be a focus of the Year 3 plan. During Year 3, NCDPI would like to conduct a resource analysis to determine how schools are using their resources and the impact of that spending. The agency would like to use this analysis to identify successful strategies to help Cohort III Schools develop sustainability plans. The identification of available data was determined to be the next step in the plan toward collecting the appropriate information to begin project work.

May

NCDPI is undergoing a transition of key staff on this project. Conversations between SECC and the agency have focused on how the work can continue moving forward. The work will again be discussed with the School Improvement Grant (SIG) advisory board, hopefully in June. NCDPI and SECC staff have brainstormed possibilities, via phone and email, on how they can begin to include multiple offices in the transition process to support sustainability. An Information Request was also finalized (in April) and given to NCDPI staff– “Support for School Improvement Grant Schools and Districts.”

March

Two Information Requests (see February update) were processed for NCDPI and will be sent to staff in early April. SECC staff also provided an in-person “Sustainability 101” training to 4/11/2014 SIG staff advisory board as a way to start a near-term conversation on the varied processes and supports that should be in place in order to sustain the current SIG work once funding expires.

February

Two Information Requests are in process for NCDPI and should be completed in March (a) how are states using a blended approach to support School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools; and (b) How are states planning for sustaining the work that has been funded by the SIG program. Multiple phone meetings among SECC and NCDPI staff occurred to plan the meeting on sustainability 101 that will be presented in March.

January

Two Information Requests have been submitted on behalf of NCDPI as follows: (a) How are states using a blended approach to support School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools; and (b) How are states planning for sustaining the work that has been funded by the SIG program? A first step to the “chunked” training on sustainability was planned–SECC staff will present “sustainability 101” to the Advisory Board for SIG in March.

2013

December

Staff from SECC and NCDPI staff met to reestablish the key deliverables for this project. The SECC expert on sustainability work focused the meeting on an initial need to develop a “chunked” plan to assist the NCDPI staff in providing support to districts. Staff from SECC are currently developing a detailed action plan. Staff are also planning on developing an information request that would examine how states’ coaches are using blended approaches for supporting districts and schools.

November

The SECC staff facilitated a regional convening in Raleigh to extend the conversation and technical assistance support from the September national meeting. Twenty-nine staff from six state departments of education engaged in working sessions with national and content center experts and staff from the U.S. Department of Education. Staff from SECC and NCDPI have jointly planned for a Network of State Turnaround and Improvement Leaders webinar entitled “Sustainability: State Reflections and Conversations on Sustaining Rapid Improvement.” The planning and dress rehearsal occurred in November, with the webinar to follow. Staff from SECC have also had continued email and face-to-face communications with NCDPI staff to scope key next steps for SECC in supporting this work.

October

The SECC staff facilitated a face-to-face meeting with NCDPI staff from the offices for Federal Programs, School Improvement Grants, and School Turnaround to discuss the Year 2 Sustainability Project and determine specific technical assistance (TA) needs to be addressed. The meeting was followed by a phone conversation to further define TA to support the department’s efforts toward sustainability. Based on feedback from NCDPI, the Year 2 Work Plan was revised and a list of questions were developed from the meeting and shared with department staff for further review.

September

NCDPI and SECC staff participated as a North Carolina 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 served as a thought partner with the NCDPI to identify challenges to the work, further resources needed, and next steps in assisting their low-performing schools with their sustainability efforts. SECC staff also participated in the regional comprehensive center’s pre-convening meeting on September 24, 2013.

August

SECC staff participated in the final two webinars for the CoP for Developing Leadership Pipelines with NCDPI and the Center on School Turnaround in preparation for the SIG all state convening. SECC staff debriefed general observations and provided an overview of impressions of the CoP series with CST, Public Impact, and ARCC in preparation for development of a larger CoP on Developing Leadership Pipelines. SECC staff will participate in a discussion session with Public Impact on the Principal Pipeline CoP.

July

SECC staff participated in three webinars with NCDPI staff during the formation of the Community of Practice (CoP) for Principal Pipeline. SECC staff are working with the Center for School Turnaround, Public Impact, and New Leaders to prepare for the upcoming School Improvement Grant all state convening, to conduct needs sensing on policies and other issues relating to the principal pipeline. SECC staff are also preparing a handout of all the CoPs related to improving low-performing schools to assist NCDPI in mentoring other states and participating in those CoPs that will allow them to learn from other state educational agencies.

June

SECC staff continued to provide technical assistance to NCDPI staff through email communication, participation in webinars, and the formation of a Community of Practice (CoP) for Principal Pipelines.

May

On May 15–16, SECC staff attended the spring Peeer-to-Peer convening with NCDPI and provided technical assistance during the session. SECC staff are planning with NCDPI for the all state SIG convening in September. SECC staff also participated in two webinars with NCDPI staff with the Center for School Turnaround and are facilitating the participation of NCDPI staff in the community of practice sponsored by the Center for School Turnaround. SECC staff will assist NCDPI with the development of the presentation for the larger convening sponsored by the Center for School Turnaround and ED.

April

SECC staff continued to work with NCDPI on the development of the presentation for the ED spring convening. SECC staff also conducted needs-sensing regarding sustainability for current School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools and will assist NCDPI with the development of a research-based model of school improvement tailored for NCDPI’s new cohort of SIG schools. SECC staff will attend the spring convening with NCDPI staff and will facilitate the creation of a community of practice through the Center for School Turnaround.

March

SECC staff met with George Hancock and Donna Brown of the Federal Program Monitoring and Support Services Division to participate in the first of two phone interviews with the U.S. Department of Education to discuss the Fall convening and provide background information on North Carolina’s statewide system of support, the regional roundtables, regional leadership academies, and the principal pipeline.