Defining excellence for Schools-the five fundamental supports, including for family and community involvement

Derived from CPS SIPAAA printout from CPS and University of Chicago Consortium for Chicago School Research

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee and the HPKCC website, www.
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December 4, Wednesday, 6 pm. HPKCC Schools Committee is working with CPS and others to establish a Community Action Council to plan excellence and balance in all our area schools. The organizational meeting will be held at Canter School, 4959 S. Blackstone.

"Chicago School Reform: Myths, Realities, and New Visions" an alternative view can be seen in

For the study/book from which Defining Excellence is drawn, "Organizing Schools for lmprovement: Lessons from Chicago," and links to about and video of symposium January 14 2010, go to the Organizing Schools page.

Films on school reform tell very different tales. The establishment version is "Waiting for Superman." Other viewpoints are in "August to September" and "The Takeover of Testing."

"Schools strong in most fundamentals were at least ten times more likely than schools weak in most to show substantial gains in reading and mathematics"- Consortium on Chicago School Research

(For more on the background of this program, visit UC Consortium Research Findings- Organizing Schools for Improvement.)

Elaine Allensworth, statistical analysis co-director of the CCSR, described the book and findings to a Grand Boulevard Federation meeting in February 2010. She described how the improving and nonimproving subsets of African American low income closely located schools differed over 7 years. The improvers were called Hancock and the non Alexander. Hancock schools increased because of the 5 Essential supports-- leadership, parental involvement, teacher support , curriculum alignment, and safety/order. The latter works through improvement in attendance and including social interaction in the core curriculum. Furthermore, the principal has to work with the teachers on how to use a curriculum component-- in other words real teacher involvement. And teachers have to make parents their partners. Community partnerships and resources outside the school also help and also feed back into helping students deal with social and emotional issues so they can focus on learning in the classroom.

Defining Excellence- What are the Five Fundamentals for School Success?

They help schools focus on what matters most. they are levers (not prescriptions) for whole-school improvement. (SIPAAA = the School 's 2-year Improvement Plan)

There's more to a whole-school framework... Instruction is the core, but student achievement won't improve without a climate of trust and strength in all the fundamentals and especially leadership. All, including members of the community, need to trust on another, share a vision of success, and focus on what matters.

Instruction: Great schools deliver effective, engaging instruction and support to all students.

Instructional Vision: School staff develop and implement a coherent school wide instructional program based on the schools' vision and mission.

Content and pedagogy: Teachers engage all students in rigorous lessons aligned with the school's instructional goals and the appropriate standards.

Data-driven improvement: Teachers address all students' needs by using student work and assessments to make instructional decisions.


Instructional Leadership: Great schools are led by exceptional principals who share leadership responsibilities.

Goal Setting: The principal and leadership team collaborate to establish and communicate instructional goals for school success.

Resource Management: The leadership team allocates and manages resources to support the school's instructional program.

Shared Leadership: School staff share leadership responsibilities and participate in decision making that advances the school's mission.

Professional Capacity: Great schools promote constant learning and professional growth for all school staff.

Focused Professional Development: All staff participate in concrete, targeted professional development aligned with SIPAAA priorities.

Peer Collaboration: School leaders schedule and protect sufficient planning time, which teachers use to build collegiality and collaborate on instruction.

Continuous Learning: The leadership team facilitates dialogue focused on progress and actively engages with staff to improve instruction.

Learning Climate: Great schools feel safe, welcoming, adn inspiring for everyone in the school community.

Expectations: All members of the school community demonstrate high expectations for themselves and others.

Environmental: Students and staff establish and maintain a safe, welcoming school environment.

Relationships: All school-based interactions are mutually respectful, caring, and personalized.

Family and Community Involvement: Great schools build and maintain strong relationships with families adn the community.

Communication: There is regular, effective, two-way communication between school staff and families about student expectations and student progress.

Partnerships: The school and community share leadership and resources, including time, expertise, and facilities.

Community Investment: Community members recognize the school as an integral part of the neighborhood and support school improvement.