We’re swinging for the fences. School improvement efforts need to stop sending our players to the minors and step up to the plate. In Missouri, school improvement is about playing as a team. School improvement is not a stats game solely relying on test scores. It is a multi-layered approach that focuses on effective teaching and learning practices in the classroom. Starting in 2011, the Collaborative Work, a statewide initiative, created a team including the State Department of Education, two universities, a regional professional development network, and 356 schools to focus on making teaching and learning visible. The Collaborative Work creates a model system for developing, sharing and implementing effective practices that can be accessed by participating schools and all other schools interested in making remarkable improvement. In essence, teachers and administrators will implement collaborative data teams to assist one another to:
- Implement effective teaching/learning practices;
- Develop and administer common formative assessments that measure the effectiveness of instruction and student mastery of learning objectives; and
- Use data-based decision-making to guide team decisions about classroom learning and instruction.
How does the Collaborative Work initiative work? Well, teamwork and communication are key, just as with any winning baseball team. There are many players on the field as well as many on the sideline to help make implementation expectations and implementation integrity clear and achievable. If thinking about it in baseball terms, we are heavy hitters trying to hit the ball out of the park and make it visible to all those in the outfield.