A school improvement plan is a road map that sets out the changes a school needs to make to improve the level of student achievement, and shows how and when these changes will be made.
School improvement plans are selective: they help principals, teachers, and other stakeholders answer the questions “What will we focus on now?” and “What will we leave until later?” They encourage staff and parents to monitor student achievement levels and other factors, such as the school environment, that are known to influence student success. With up-to-date and reliable information about how well students are performing, schools are better able to respond to the needs of students, teachers, and parents.
A school improvement plan is also a mechanism through which the public can hold schools accountable for student success and through which it can measure improvement. One of the first steps—a crucial one—in developing an improvement plan involves teachers, parents, and other community members working together to gather and analyse information about the school and its students, so that they can determine what needs to be improved in their school. As the plan is implemented, schools continue to gather this kind of data. By comparing the new data to the initial information on which the plan was based, they— and the public—can measure the success of their improvement strategies.
Real change takes time. It is important that all partners understand this as they enter into the school improvement planning process. Incremental improvements are significant, and they should be celebrated, but they do not constitute lasting change. School improvement plans are therefore best designed as three-year plans:
- year 1 is taken up with the planning process
- year 2 is the first year of implementation
- year 3 is the year in which implementation continues.
During initial deliberations, or as time goes on, schools may wish to extend their plan for additional years to ensure that they maintain their focus and reach their goals. In any case, school improvement plans should be considered working documents that schools use to monitor their progress over time and to make revisions when necessary to ensure that the plans stay on course.
In developing their school’s improvement plan, the principal, staff, parents, and other community members work through a variety of activities focused areas like curriculum delivery, school environment, and parental involvement. For each of these focused areas, schools establish the following:
- a goal statement
- performance targets
- areas of focus
- implementation strategies
- indicators of success
- time lines
- responsibility for implementing
- checkpoints for status updates
- opportunities for revisions.
Taken from: Education Improvement Commission, 2000, School Improvement Planning: A handbook for principals, Teachers, and School Councils [Online] Available from: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/reports/sihande.pdf