Learning and Leading—Making an Impact
District State: New Jersey
District Website: linden.k12.nj.us
Challenge: Great teachers, numerous resources and extensive support were present, but student growth and achievement were not progressing. Educators determined that there was plenty of effort being put forth but not necessarily with a common goal or vision.
Initiative: District administrators introduced a five-year strategic plan that focuses on data-supported curriculum and instruction and empowers teachers to use data effectively. Instructional leadership teams—comprising teachers, instructional coaches and administrators—work together to connect standards, student learning, assessment, professional learning and school culture. Data is analyzed during summer sessions, resulting in the development of action plans and instructional strategies and in the introduction of assessment tools. Collective efficacy has encouraged additional collaboration in instruction.
Impact: “Teachers receive targeted professional development, coupled with opportunities for peer collaboration, allowing educators to share their ideas and gain new insights and perspectives,” says Denise Cleary, assistant superintendent. Over the past three years, the number of students who have met or exceeded expectations on English Language Arts assessments has increased at three times the state level rate.
Advice: For this initiative to be successful, a district must have a strong instructional coach who can lead the effort, says Cleary. Consistency is key, and all educators must receive the same PD. Teams across a district need to collaborate and share ideas.