Tools for Improving Instruction, Curriculum, and Student Achievement
We believe professional learning is fundamental to providing high levels of learning for each student. All employees will have learning opportunities and a professional responsibility to actively engage in continuous learning to improve their practice.
Eden Prairie Schools Guiding Principles for Professional Learning:
- Job-embedded learning is grounded in day-to-day practices
- Collaborative culture empowers employees to work interdependently to achieve common goals
- Learning is ongoing and occurs as part of routine work practices
- Conditions are created for a culture of sustained and perpetual learning
- Learning by doing develops deeper understanding and greater commitment
- Employees are active partners in personalizing their learning; determining the content of their learning, how learning occurs, and evaluating its effectiveness
- Maintained and strengthened the Instructional Excellence Team comprised of coaches, principals, associate principals, and instructional directors during the 2016-2017 school year
- Furthered the purpose of the Instructional Excellence Team to provide job embedded professional development and ensure high levels of learning experiences for each student
- Taking a learner-centered approach in coaching was central to moving each student towards success, as it occupied the space between where the students were and where they needed to be
- Coaches worked side-by-side with teachers, co-teaching, modeling instruction and planning
- To increase the success of each student, teachers and coaches worked to implement instructional practices which were culturally relevant and personalized for each learner
- Professional Development Steering Committee comprised of administrators, teachers and parents met five times during the 2016-2017 school year to review staff development practices and suggest recommendations to improve practices
- An annual review of professional development opportunities, programs, and events was conducted in March 2017, the data from this review was used to further enhance programming for the 2017-2018 school year
During the 2016-2017 school year, Eden Prairie Schools saw a positive impact on classroom instruction and student achievement as evidenced by teacher feedback and surveys. Examples of this impact include an increased capacity for reaching specific students as a result of discussion and dialogue with QComp coaches. Our centralized, district model maintains consistent language and provides a common experience which positively impacts classroom instruction. Assigning QComp coaches/observers to sites gives them familiarity with the vertical articulation of the curriculum and an understanding of the students’ needs and ability to build professional relationships with colleagues.
- Selection of a valid and reliable rubric to clearly define expectations of high quality teaching
- Training, that included the calibration, of the valid and reliable rubric for QComp observers and principals
- Teachers intentionally practiced reflective thinking about their instruction through face to face professional conversations
Teacher Development & Evaluation
This is a multi-year approach to teacher evaluation. All Eden Prairie teachers and other licensed personnel participate in goal setting, professional development, classroom observations and a summative evaluation to support professional growth, and ultimately, student achievement. The holistic evaluation by administrators will take into account data regarding student achievement, student engagement, and the teacher/staff member’s performance during observations, over a three-year period. Staff members also participate in a documented individual growth plan.
Principal Development & Evaluation
This is a continuous improvement process in which the principals are provided formative assessment through a 360° survey instrument and a goal setting process which is used to monitor and inform the summative evaluation by the principal’s supervisor. The purpose of the process is to support the professional growth and development of principals and improve student learning. A minimum of 35% of the annual goals are evaluated on the basis of measurable improvement in longitudinal student achievement, and the process is built upon the seven core principal competencies which include: strategic leadership, instructional leadership, managerial leadership, cultural leadership, communications leadership, school community leadership, and ethical and professional leadership. Principals set specific, measurable goals in these areas, articulate action plans to achieve the goals, and monitor progress toward the goals. All of this is shared with the principal’s supervisor in an annual evaluation conference.
Professional Learning Communities
The Professional Learning Community framework guides the work of our collaborative teams and they take collective responsibility to ensure all students succeed. This cycle of work is ongoing and grounded in the spirit of continuous improvement through a collegial approach to improving student achievement and professional practice. Student learning remains the focus of the collaborative teams’ work, which creates rich opportunities for teachers to talk, learn, modify, and meet the needs of each student.
- A deeper understanding of the guaranteed and viable curriculum, what students should know and be able to do according to MN state standards
- Continued use of student assessment data during the PLC process
- Engage in enriching discussion about specific students and working to improve their instructional practices by learning from one another
- Embraced notion that we are collectively responsible for the academic growth and achievement of all students at a grade level and that more than one teacher is focused on the success and learning of each student
Types of PLC’s for Instructional Excellence Team:
- Grade level/dept PLC’s - coaches, interventionists and instructional leaders worked alongside PLC teams
- Site based PLC- coaches, interventionists and instructional leaders met weekly as a PLC focusing on the coaching cycle occurring
- Districtwide PLC’s - district level team of coaches, principals and directors met monthly
Access to Excellent & Diverse Teachers:
Equitable access to teachers and principals focused on our mission is a priority in Eden Prairie Schools. The district’s process for placement of experienced, effective and in-field teachers happens through the right of assignment by building principals. Annually, principals review student achievement data and use this to make placement decisions to maintain equitable access to excellent and diverse teachers. To uphold highly effective PLCs focused on increasing student achievement and reducing achievement disparities the experience, effectiveness and strengths of individual teachers is considered when establishing PLC teams.
In addition, the district has provided several opportunities for professional development:
- Culturally Responsive Practices Course developed specifically for each employee group in the district
- Providing preschool students of underrepresented families of color and socioeconomic backgrounds who identified preschool tuition as a barrier to attending preschool classes prior to kindergarten a waiver of tuition fees in order to successfully participate in quality preschool programs
- Instructional coaches along with site and district equity teams design and deliver on-going professional development centered on culturally responsive practices
- Fiscal resource for continued support is allocated through the district Achievement Integration budget