The Improving Schools Initiative is a four-year (2012-2016) project to demonstrate how lower-performing schools can improve student outcomes with targeted external support and the implementation of key practices proven to drive school improvement. EdVestors has provided three struggling Boston elementary schools with external support to bolder improvement efforts, including strategy and implementation support, leadership coaching, and financial resources. The project is designed to raise student performance and accelerate each school’s improvement trajectory over a four-year period. The goal is to demonstrate an effective and sustainable tactical support system for schools in need of improvement, with the hope that this learning could help additional struggling schools improve student outcomes.
To date, all three partner schools have increased student proficiency in math, English Language Arts, or both. Two of the three schools made notable academic gains for students and one school – the Russell Elementary School in Dorchester – moved up from Level 3 to Level 1 in the 2014 state accountability system. The Russell was one of only two schools in the district to make this jump in 2014.
Key Practices for School Improvement
Five key practices have emerged from EdVestors’ work in urban schools as essential conditions for struggling schools to achieve the rapid improvement needed to provide more students with a high quality education. These practices form the foundation for the Improving Schools Initiative, with a focus on changing teacher and leader practices within schools to benefit students.
- Strong Leadership & Shared Ownership: Distributed leadership grounded in shared accountability between administrators and teachers toward a goal of instructional excellence and increased student achievement.
- Meaningful Teacher Collaboration: The involvement of teams of teachers and school staff in analysis of data and related decisions regarding curriculum, instructional practice, and student supports, as well as sufficient time for teachers to plan collaboratively.
- Effective Use of Data to Improve Instruction: Intentional systems to use data to drive decisions about curriculum, instruction, and interventions.
- Academic Rigor & Student Support: A student-centered approach balancing high academic and behavioral expectations with integrated academic and developmental supports tailored to student needs.
- Effective Family & Community Partnerships: A school climate that is welcoming and engaging for students and families, supported by strategic partnerships aligned to school improvement goals.
James F. Condon Elementary School
Ellis Mendell Elementary School
William E. Russell Elementary School