We have entered our second year of partnership with the East Side Alliance, a consortium of the East Side Union High School District and its seven feeder elementary districts in San Jose, CA. As part of our work funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Network for School Improvement, this partnership focuses on expanding the capacity of educators, partnering with them to design solutions, and building their confidence and capability to better educate their students.
We started this second year of partnership knowing that teacher capacity would be limited due to the need to continue to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
Therefore, we predicted that focusing on high leverage areas would allow school sites to have a clear focus and a strong foundation for the work this year. Some of the focus areas include:
- Student Learning Goals - School leaders establish clearly defined, measureable, accelerated, and equitable goals for student learning (e.g., core academic goals, reducing suspension rates, engaging families, etc.).
- Theory of Action - School leaders identify annual priorities for improving the instructional program (including curriculum, instruction, assessment and intervention) and for strengthening the culture of the school community to meet their student learning goals.
- Professional Learning Plans - School leaders develop a plan for supporting teachers to improve their practice that includes clear expectations, roles and responsibilities, structures, and resources to support and monitor improvement.
At this mid-year point, we have seen growth in these areas in part due to our implementation of a leadership collaborative and the support we have been able to provide during our regular check-ins with school leaders this year. It’s worth noting, the leadership collaborative is a new space this year and formed out of a need for school site leaders and district leaders to improve communication around priorities. Additionally, we hosted summer sessions with school leaders in August 2021. These sessions were attended by 100% of the network school leaders and consisted of helping teams develop their Theory of Action. The sessions proved to be extremely helpful in getting leaders ready to start the work this year.