Visible Teaching, Assessment, Learning and Leading
NCLB 2011-2012 SCHEV Grant
SURN VTALL proposes to use a tiered approach to professional development to disseminate the high impact strategies and tools that SURN has identified to build leadership capacity and teacher effectiveness in 104 middle and high schools in the SURN partnership.
The project will be organized around a framework for high-yield student engagement developed by Dr. Jan Rozzelle and Dr. Valerie Gregory (Figure 1). For many years, SURN has used an instructional audit to measure pre- and post- use of research-based best practices. Observers over the years have reported that the student-engagement data was a concern as students would often be on-task, but the work was not appropriate, challenging, or engaging. A shift was made at SURN to discuss and examine high-yield student engagement that results in increased levels of learning and student achievement. SURN VTALL will address what research has shown as critical practices of effective teachers in the areas of teaching, learning, and assessment. The inclusion of the leadership component engages teacher leaders and their administrators in classroom observations, to collect data on teaching and learning, and then facilitate a dialogue with teachers on professional practices. The goals of SURN VTALL are to:
- Build teacher leadership through collaborative observations that increase frequency of specific feedback to teachers on professional practice and student engagement
- Increase use of high-yield teaching, assessing, and learning strategies (explicit instruction) across content areas
- Promote student engagement and performance by integrating College and Career Readiness Initiative skills across core content areas and engaging students in authentic, real-world, content-focused research, reading, writing, and communicating" (Superintendents Memo, January 21, 2011).
Figure 1.VTALL Professional Development Framework for High-Yield Student Engagement
Description of Project Activities
The activities in which schools engage during the academic year vary by the schools’ specific needs and desired level of involvement. SURN proposes using a three-tiered option for schools in order to increase the projected impact of the project and increase the level of project ownership by schools. Table 3 illustrates the three levels as well as outlines the expected level of school contribution that ranges from substitute cost coverage to provisions for the Teacher-in-Residence (Lead VTALL Coach) position. In SURN there are 104 middle and high schools operating in the current academic year that will be invited to participate in one of the three tiers. During the academic year, all selected teachers would receive four days of professional development related to teaching, assessment, learning, and leading. Schools participating at the top two tiers would receive additional professional development for six teacher leaders and/or administrators to develop leadership capacity to promote reflection and support change through the provision of formative feedback. Schools at the second tier would also receive three on-site school visits during the year. Schools at the top tier would have multiple visits a month by a teacher-in-residence who would provide on-site consultations, classroom-based demonstrations, coaching, and feedback.
- The Basic Network tier will serve as a conduit to the schools to train a teacher leader who will be expected to share the lessons learned with colleagues at a department, grade level, or even a whole school mini-professional development following each of the four VTALL professional development days. Schools know that SURN offers high-quality professional development. As one principal said, “The professional development was the best [he] had experienced in 15 years.” The Basic Network addresses a need identified by SURN superintendents to make dissemination efforts more intentional and sustained as opposed to cumulative “end of project” events.
- The Targeted Partnership will be open first to school systems identified by SCHEV as high-needs school divisions, with priority given to schools in those divisions that have worked with SURN on previous grants and demonstrated a commitment to project participation. A second level of priority will be schools from divisions that have previous experience on SURN grants that have not been identified by SCHEV. Participants in other SURN grants have consistently identified the school-based support as being a critical element to the transfer of knowledge.
- The Collaborative Partnership is open to all schools with priority given to those in SCHEV-identified high-needs school divisions. This tier is an opportunity to provide embedded, sustained on-the-ground support for up to four schools that are struggling and need intensive support. At this level, the school system must commit funds towards the Teacher-in-Residence position as well as agree to actively participate in the grant’s activities.