Creating the Profile
In this first phase of the Continuous Improvement Process, you and your staff will collect and analyze data to create a comprehensive profile of students, communities, the school, and/or the district. Equity and diversity are the lenses through which you will examine these data to create a profile.
The profile will include information about:
- student and community demographics, including all subgroups;
- student performance and behavior by subgroup;
- stakeholder perceptions about student differences; and
- local practices and programs that address equity and diversity.
By the end of this phase, you will have addressed each of these questions.
- Have we disaggregated data to examine achievement among subgroups (e.g., English Language Learners; students with disabilities; students of different socio-economic status, race, and gender; high-ability learners; dropouts)?
- Have we disaggregated data to examine possible disproportional placement of students identified in subgroups in special education?
- Have we disaggregated data to examine possible disproportional application of discipline procedures to students in subgroups?
- Have we identified predominant personal beliefs among school personnel about equity and diversity?
- Have we identified characteristics of our school culture related to equity and diversity?
See the Resource section of this guide for a variety of information and tools to help you create your profile. The following types of resources will be most useful during this phase:
- Research and Theory
- Videos and Films
There are four data sets that you need to collect in order to create your profile. Worksheets to help you collect and organize your data are provided in Appendices B, C, D, and E.
Data set 1. Demographics
Demographic data relevant to equity and diversity can include the following information. Use the worksheet found in Appendix B to record your data.
- Numbers and percentages of student groups by ethnicity, language, gender, and other characteristics collected by the state or district at the individual student level.
- Numbers and percentages of students (disaggregated by ethnicity, language, gender, etc.) who participate in programs such as ELL programs, special education programs, gifted and talented programs, and Title I programs. At the secondary level, data can include disaggregated data about students who participate in Advanced Placement programs, career and vocational programs, and other academic opportunities.
Data set 2. Student performance data
Student performance relevant to equity and diversity can include the following information, disaggregated by student subgroup. Use the worksheet found in Appendix C to record your data.
- Academic performance in major content areas
- Grade retention
- High school graduation rate
- High school dropout rate
- Behavior (e.g., discipline referrals, attendance, honor roll, leadership clubs)
Data Set 3. Perceptual data from selected stakeholders
It’s important to collect data on teacher, staff, student, and parent perceptions of equity and diversity. Perceptual data should include information about school culture and personal beliefs about student, parent, and community diversity. Perceptual data can be collected through surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
A useful tool to help you determine which questions to ask is the Equity Audit Statements found in Appendix D. Schools and districts that need additional equity audit resources will find a wealth of tools in Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, by Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri Robins, and Raymond D. Terrell (3rd edition, 2009, Corwin Press).
Use the worksheet found in Appendix E to summarize your findings.
Data Set 4. Information about current school policies, practices, and programs
We know that a positive classroom climate and school learning environment are critical to the successful achievement of every child. It is important to examine policies, practices, and programs to ensure that they address the needs of all children. This data set will build awareness of those policies, practices, and programs that support equity and diversity. Use the worksheet found in Appendix F to describe the equity and diversity climate and learning environment presently in place.
Now that you’ve gathered the four data sets, it’s time to organize the data so you can make decisions. The following questions can guide decisions about how to share data with your stakeholders (i.e., teachers, staff, parents, community members):
- How should the data be displayed? What data are best suited for charts and graphs? What data are best suited for narrative descriptions in text or tables?
- How will results be shared with stakeholders? Where? When? By whom?
- Are all data communicated appropriately with regard to confidentiality and privacy issues?
Present the data to your staff and/or stakeholders. Data can then be analyzed and interpreted to answer the question, “What do the data tell us about our strengths and challenges as they relate to student equity and diversity in our school or district?”
One step-by-step process for engaging staff and other stakeholders in reflecting on and analyzing data consists of the following:
- Participants review the data over the course of a few staff meetings or during a day designated for this purpose. This is a hands‐on process that allows staff to familiarize themselves with the data and discuss it in small groups.
- Small groups write narrative statements and, if possible, create graphic representations of data, reflecting the strengths and weaknesses they have identified.
- The whole group prioritizes the narrative statements based on the importance of the data to the overall improvement of school or district performance relative to equity and diversity.
- The whole group or a designated small group creates a summary report (the profile). Sections of each profile should appear in the same order; i.e., demographic information first, followed by student performance data, perceptual data, and program data.
Data analysis assistance can be provided by staff members of Educational Service Units and the Nebraska Department of Education.
Use the chart below to review the work you have done to create your profile. Have you forgotten any steps? If not, you’re ready to set your goals.
PROFILE CHECKSHEET for
EQUITY and DIVERSITY in SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PLANNING
Demographic data has been collected to gain a picture of the student population.
Data sources have been examined to determine how students perform on norm-referenced tests, curriculum-referenced tests, and classroom assessments.
Data has been collected from stakeholders to identify their perceptions of equity and diversity in the school.
School policies, practices, and programs have been examined to identify existing efforts to support equity and diversity.
The analysis of data from all four categories (demographics, student performance, perceptions, and programs) has identified strengths and challenges.
Positive trends for celebration have been identified.
Needs for school improvement are emerging.
A method has been put into place to share our school profile with the staff and other stakeholders.
Best Practices Model
The myeLearning.org has the following Nebraska goals:
- Develop web-based methods of staff development for Nebraska educators.
- Offer an array of commercially and independently designed web-based staff development trainings.
- Promote the utilization of web-based staff development opportunities throughout the consortium region.
- Promote the development of web-based opportunities throughout the consortium region.
- Foster the utilization of web-based learning in K- 12 education.
- Research the potential of a statewide Learning Management System (LMS) that will integrate with current district Student Information Systems (SIS)
Resources offered to subscribing schools include ANGEL instructor and student guides, Curriculum Mapper, ePortfolio, how-to-manuals for the basic operations and features of the ANGEL software, implementation plan templates and presentations.
Aligning Improvement Plans and Activities
Technology planning serves as part of the overall continuous improvement planning process (CIP), specifically aimed at the technology needs of the organization, and is used as part of documentation for accreditation.
The Nebraska Department of Education provides an online technology planning tool. The form provides the organization with documentation and data that can be used for continuous improvement planning, budgeting, and evaluation and also serves to collect data that the state must report for federal requirements. This data collection is to be completed by all Public Districts, and is available to Non Public Districts, Special Purpose Schools (State-Operated) and Educational Service Units.
The online technology planning tool also serves in meeting FCC regulations for Erate which requires a certified plan for Priority 2 funding. The Plan is organized to assist organizations in preparing and retaining needed documentation for Priority 1 & 2 funding that may be needed in case of audit. The online technology planning tool is a catalyst for CIP but may not contain all of the elements that the organization desires to include as part of its overall plan.
NDE Tech Plan Approval – The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) reviews and certifies technology plans. Completing all of the sections within the online instrument allows NDE to receive the plan in a format consistent with technology plan elements specified by the FCC. Neither NDE nor the Tech Plan approver is responsible for Technology Plan content.
Collection Dates: The Plan will open on July 1 and is due on or before February 1 annually and should be written to cover the subsequent year(s) activities. The collection will be open year around for viewing.
Access information about the online tech plan at this URL:
Special Education: Improving Learning for Children with Disabilities (ILCD)
ILCD District Plans
ILCD Growth Action Plan, which is either an Improvement Plan, or part of a School Improvement Action Plan/Goal, will be developed to address those improvement strategies identified by the district’s ILCD Steering Committee. Once the district has addressed any compliance issues, they will then set upon the task of developing Action Plan(s) for the improvement needs identified as part of their self-assessment. These improvement needs are not related to the School Improvement activities for that year, but they may be an improvement that will affect school improvement over the upcoming years.
ILCD Improvement Plans will also be submitted to the district’s NDE Regional Program Specialist for review of content and impact on any compliance issues. An improvement plan will be reported on at the completion of the 4 phases and 5 year cycle. A progress report will submitted to the district’s ILCD Steering Committee.
The Continuous Improvement will be something that supports the activities of the overall school improvement/growth plan for the district. This is an internal activity that will demonstrate the linkage between ILCD and School Improvement, and will document interaction of staff and administration to promote improvement.
NDE Review of District ILCD Process
It is the responsibility of the NDE Regional Representative to complete a review of the ILCD process with each of the school districts within their assigned ESUs, following the completion of the rating of the Inquiries and the development of improvement/growth plans.
Preparation for Review Process
The district will contact their NDE Regional Representative to indicate that they have completed the rating of their Inquiries, and are preparing their improvement/growth plans for review. This information may come directly from the district, or it may come from the ILCD Facilitator working with the district.
The district personnel will determine the materials they will be sharing with the NDE Regional Representative. Materials should not be sent to the NDE office, since these are materials developed and maintained in the district, and will not be maintained by NDE.
NDE Staff Responsibilities
Preparation for Review Process
The review of each of the school districts will be completed with some district specific features, but must include all the components outlined in this protocol to insure consistency and rater reliability among the Regional Representatives from NDE. The following are the steps to be completed by the NDE Regional Representative assigned to your area.
Step 1: Contact from the District or the ILCD Facilitator:
This will establish the role the facilitator has taken with the school district. In some cases the ILCD Facilitator is the Special Education Administrator for the district, and is very actively involved in the ILCD process, and in other cases the ILCD Facilitator may have shared information on the ILCD process with the school district, done some training, but other than that has not been involved in the implementation of the ILCD process in that district. It will be important to note the involvement of the ILCD Facilitator. The contact should indicate that the district/cooperative is ready to enter Phase 3, and review of the ILCD self-assessment.
Step 2: Contact the District/Cooperative or the ILCD Facilitator:
The NDE Regional Representative will contact the appropriate person, and set up the time for the visit, and review the intent of the Phase 3 review.
Structure of the Review
There is no set format to how the review is to be conducted. The NDE person may come to the district, the district people may come to the NDE person. The information sharing is the most important and the ability to discuss the self assessment process and the ratings of the inquiries with someone outside of the district. Data/findings may be challenged but this is an opportunity for districts to assess their findings, and validate that the findings are supported by clear and concise data. It would be important to include as many of your ILCD committee members as possible in the review. It is an opportunity for them to participate in the discussion and plan for the future.
Review the General Information:
School District Name
Date of the Review
Participants on the Review Team from the School District
Members of the ILCD Steering Committee
Review of Data and Ratings:
Information on the membership, the meetings and the training activities carried out by the ILCD Steering Committee: This information will help the reviewer(s) understand the extent of the alignment between the ILCD and SIP Processes. It also indicates the level of training given to the ILCD Committee members and any difficulties the team may have experienced in completing the ILCD self assessment. Additionally, any of the activities the ILCD Committee has conducted that were considered exemplary should be discussed and acknowledged during this process.
Review the ratings on the Inquiries and correlation to data collected: The NDE Review will include a review of all data to determine if the baseline data supports the performance rating for each of the Inquiries, with an opportunity for the district to discuss each of the inquiries, and the impact of the process in identifying strengths and weaknesses across the district. Performance rating correlates to the baseline data presented by the district.
Review the district’s plan for the development and implementation of the improvement strategies: A district plan for developing and implementing improvement or growth strategies for those issues and concerns identified by the ILCD Committee. The plan should outline the district’s timelines for implementing improvement and growth strategies and activities. It should provide general information on the content of the strategies and activities, the hoped for improvement to be achieved, the intended impact on student/child outcomes and its relationship to school improvement.
Follow up contact with the District:
The Regional Contact from NDE will provide a report to the district stating that the NDE Review was completed, the findings from that review, and any further activities identified during the meeting, in many cases, the further activities will be minimal, or not required.
PreK-12 Curriculum Alignment
Aligned curriculum is a balanced school program that accommodates a wide variety of developmental levels and is designed to increase the intellectual, personal, physical, social and career development of all students. Curriculum must be rigorous and challenging, aligned to district and/or state standards and benchmarks, and vertically and horizontally articulated across all levels.
Administrators and teachers should use the following guiding questions to analyze their PreK-12 curriculum alignment. This analysis will help determine if curriculum alignment should be a major focus of their CIP process.
- Is there formalized written curriculum for PreK-12 in all content areas?
- Is curriculum aligned with:
- Is the curriculum reflective of
- District’s vision and mission?
- Local Board policies?
- A consenous process by teachers who are experienced with the content area and age groups of students involved?
- Is the curriculum
- Reviewed and revised at regular intervals?
- Based on data, research, and best practices?
- Comprehensive and sequential?
- Totally integrated with quality instruction and assessments?
- A framework for facilitating teaching and learning?
- Reflective of a commitment to equity and an appreciation of diversity?
- Articulated to ensure P-16 student performance and readiness for employment?
- Does the curriculum
- Challenge each student to excel?
- Provide for differentiated levels of instruction?
- Include a system for implementing interventions to help students who need it?
- Move the staff away from textbook only to textbook as a resource?
- Is the staff
- Familiar with the horizontal and vertical alignment of their specific content area(s) to the district’s curriculum?
- Given dedicated time to work with peers on alignment?
- Have families and community partners
- Been given a chance to provide input?
- For additional questions, check out the following phases of Continuous School Improvement:
Nebraska Literacy Plan
The Nebraska Literacy Plan is designed to create a framework to guide and support the efforts of districts, schools, educators, staff developers, and communities in creating an effective literacy plan to meet the needs of an ever-changing student population.
Nebraska is proud to be a state where curriculum decisions are made by local school boards, and thus are tailored even further to fit the needs of their students. Therefore, the Plan has been designed with that local control model in mind, and seeks not to be a state curriculum, but a collection of resources, ideas, and themes about what should be present in a comprehensive literacy plan. However, the Nebraska Literacy Team recognizes that this plan is also something that should continue to grow and change to reflect the diverse needs of students in an exponentially changing society.
Additionally, the team recognizes that while literacy is an integral part of a student’s education, it is only a part of what needs to be developed in a well-rounded student, and that students should be viewed as whole people, for whom literacy is a tool. Therefore, the Nebraska Literacy Team has set forth a vision of the literate graduate.
This section of the CIP Toolkit, Instructional Strategies, is intended to support the overall Comprehensive Improvement Process (CIP). Strategies are identified that have the greatest impact on increasing student achievement in schools/classrooms. The strategies presented in this toolkit have a high probability of enhancing student achievement for all learners PreK-12.
To learn more about the Instructional Strategies section of this toolkit, select one of The Four Phases or the Research and Strategies link listed in the left-hand navigation column.
Family & Community Engagement
“Partnerships among schools, families, and community groups are not a luxury, they are a necessity”
(Henderson, Mapp, Johnson and Davies, 2007)
Engaging Families and Communities as partners with schools is no longer a “good idea” but has become a necessity, as the evidence is clear: partnership contributes to children’s academic and social success. The Nebraska Department of Education identified family engagement as an essential area of focus within its new Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow (AQuESTT) within the tenant of Student Success and Access.
This Family & Community Engagement section of the Continuous Improvement Toolkit is designed to help school personnel facilitate family engagement through the four phases of the improvement process:
For school personnel, parents or community partners who want to access current family engagement research, websites, promising practices, or tools for evaluation, go to the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Family and Community Engagement website.
Over 50 years of research links the various roles that families play in a child’s education – as supporters of learning, encouragers of grit and determination, models of lifelong learning, and advocates for proper programming and placements for their child Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships (2013).
Summarizing decades of research on the impact of family involvement, the National PTA web site reports the following student outcomes:
- Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates
- Better school attendance
- Increased motivation and better self-esteem
- Lower rates of suspension
- Decreased use of drugs and alcohol
- Fewer instances of violent behavior
- Greater enrollment in post-secondary education
Family and community engagement in education refers to the beliefs, attitudes and activities of community members, parents and other family members to support children’s learning. Although such involvement most often focuses on parents, it also includes guardians, grandparents, siblings and extended family members who have significant responsibility in a child’s upbringing. Community members such as civic organizations, retired citizens, businesses, clubs, and other volunteers are equally valuable partners in children’s education.
It is important to reflect on meaningful ways that families can support children in their education. In the past, parent involvement may have been limited to the school’s didactic approach: inviting parents to conferences and IEP meetings, providing them with report cards, providing parents reasonable access to staff, and occasionally requesting parent volunteers for field trips or school events. Today’s research encourages schools to redefine the concept of engaging families, schools and communities in an interactive relationship to support children’s learning and development. Authors of Whatever it Takes say, “Parents could become a powerful source to support learning for their children if they were armed with the right tools and guidelines.”
Dr. Joyce Epstein’s early work in the field, with the National Network of Partnership Schools, set the stage for later research by defining six types of parent involvement. These types include communicating, parenting, student learning, volunteering, school decision making and advocacy, and collaborating with community. Later, researchers analyzed which types of involvement actually impact student achievement. Standard 2 & 3 below were identified as having the greatest impact. The findings of Henderson and Mapp provide a framework for strengthening family-school community partnerships. The PTA has updated their National Standards for Family School Partnerships, to reflect this recent work, which changes the focus from what schools should do to what parents, schools, and communities, as partners, can do together to support student success. Positive outcomes in student learning and achievement, occur when partnering among stakeholders becomes routine. Effective partnering opens doors to infinite and innovative opportunities. The respectful and trusting relationships that are fostered among stakeholders create strong connections which support students’ education.
Equity and Diversity
Thinking about Equity and Diversity
Why is it important?
The student population in Nebraska is changing, with increasing student diversity each year. In October 2011, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) reported that statewide student enrollment was made up of 71 percent white students and 29 percent students of other races and ethnicities. In addition, the report noted that 43 percent of students live below the poverty line. Nearly seven percent of students speak a language other than English as their first language, and 15 percent of students receive special education services.
The goal of the NDE toolkit is to improve teaching and learning for all students. An effective school is an equitable school – one that provides high expectations and appropriate resources so that all students can achieve to the same rigorous proficiency standards. This means there must be minimal variance in performance among student groups, regardless of their socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, language, culture, and disability.
The following beliefs about continuous improvement are infused within this equity and diversity section of the NDE toolkit:
- Continuous improvement is an ongoing process, not an event.
- Continuous improvement involves all staff in an ongoing conversation of equity and diversity.
- Continuous improvement includes ongoing professional development, using strategies such as study groups and professional learning communities.
- Equity and diversity are addressed throughout the continuous improvement process.
The final belief is key; therefore you will see equity and diversity questions asked and answered through each phase of the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP). Before you dig into the first phase of the process, you may want to review commonly used terms and definitions related to equity and diversity, located in Appendix A.
Development assistance provided by North Central Comprehensive Center.
Improvement Plan Requirements
Responsibilities of the Host School Staff
- Step 1: Determine the Purpose for the Visit
- Step 2: Confer With the External Team Leader
- Step 3: Select and Invite External Team Members
- Step 4: Plan the Agenda for the Team Visit
- Appendix A – Sample Agenda for an External Visit
- Step 5: Provide Information to the External Team Prior to the Visit
- Step 6: Prepare for an Opening Presentation
- Step 7: Arrange for Logistical Matters
Responsibilities of the External Team Leader
- Step 1: Duties Prior to the Visit
- Step 2: Duties During the Visit
- Step 3: Duties After The Visit-Preparing the External Team Report
Special Education School Improvement Plans
- Requirements (PDF)