In creating a culture for educational excellence, Muskego-Norway school district has hardwired the processes that feed alignment, accountability and self-awareness. They create continuous improvement by intentional exploration into the data to examine effective strategies. Equally important, Muskego-Norway examines the root causes of ineffective strategies. Speaking in tandem, Kelly Thompson, Superintendent, and Jeff Peterson, Assistant Superintendent for Continuous Improvement, Muskego-Norway Schools, share how their end of the year reflection is a result of a well-articulated plan from the beginning of the year.
How do you prepare to look at year-end results to reflect on the work of the school year?
Looking at end of the year results don’t happen at the end of the year. For us to be well prepared at the end of the year, we need to have a well-articulated plan at the beginning of the year. Before the end of the year, we look at formative data in place at the beginning of the year and what data we will be collecting. We start with articulating SMART goals, and continue with a mid-year progress monitoring data retreat. We monitor along the way at our leadership team meetings and our Eye-on-the-Goal school team meetings. We continuously look at data throughout the year that we indicate as important. At the end of the year, it’s not like we are thinking “I hope we did well.” We set goals that are kind of out there. We always have red and green on our scorecard that are a challenge to reach. It always helps us set goals, grow and set stronger and higher goals.
It’s important to have formative and summative measures in place. Our formative is extremely important because we have 100-day check-ins for our Eye-on-the-Goal and our annual strategic plan that are still meaningful to our goal. We have a good idea if we are on track after 100 days to reach our end of year goal and we can adjust our practices. At the end of the year we are analyzing our summative data.
What do you do with your data? What kinds of reflective activities or data analysis matters most?
In creating our district scorecard, we determined six to eight core measures aligned to student achievement, workforce engagement, service to employees and families, and financial efficiencies for supporting student achievement. Our scorecards include annual results measures aligned to our core pillars, few and focused strategic actions for each measurable goal, and the progress-monitoring measures to determine the success of actions applied to achieve our goals.
Building by building, goal by goal, we reflect using the 4-lenses analysis of student data to analyze growth, consistency, equity and standards. The analysis is color coded with green meaning we met our goal, yellow meaning we are within striking distance and red meaning we did not make our goal. We dive into whether student achievement improves for identical groups (cohorts) of students from one assessment to the next. Are results consistent for different groups of students at the same grade level from one assessment to the next? Is the “achievement gap” closing among student groups, regardless of background, condition or circumstance? How are students progressing with the essential skills and concepts necessary for success at the next level? Although growth, consistency, equity and standards student data is equally weighted, we celebrate growth the most. No matter where a student begins, we are looking for at least a year’s growth.
In looking at the data, what are our failures? More importantly, we examine the why behind it. We want to learn from our leaders why we got those results. We look at it as an aggregate as a district. Then, we disaggregate the data by subgroups we have goals for such as our special education, and socio-economic populations within our building and our district goals.
What next steps do you expect of leaders after this reflection?
Celebrations are a very important part of our culture. During our two-day leadership retreat in June we analyze our work using the four-lenses protocol, and each school shares a celebration. Positive results are not by accident. They came from intentional action. We look at the practices that contributed to the success and determine if they are replicable.
During our root cause analysis, we expect our leaders to determine the key performance indicators we need to focus on for the next year. Over the summer, the Eye-on-the-Goal teams work to write goals and action steps for the first semester.
We have an Eye-on-the-Goal checklist for beginning planning, mid-year review and end of year review. The checklist includes mapping the strategies over five years, creating validation for our rounding, 30-90-day conversations, district goals, and always behaviors. Our five-year strategic plan drives every Eye-on-the-Goal focus area. Everyone writes their own goals, and we validate them four times a year. Our next step action is determining the measurements to put into place for our 100-day check in and what summative data we will use.
- Have a strong 5-year strategic plan you can draw from because it helps you be focused.
- Have cascading goals for alignment of building goals and district goals. If you lack alignment, you have people out there doing work that is not getting closer to the end goal.
- Celebrate even the smallest accomplishments no matter how big or how small. This helps continue to motivate and give the energy.
- One thing we learned from the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award process: Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle is key for supporting multiple goals over several years to build capacity and cycle the key processes.
We would like to extend a special thank you for engaging with us around your practice to Kelly Thompson, Superintendent, and Jeff Peterson, Assistant Superintendent for Continuous Improvement, Muskego-Norway Schools.
Laura Swann, Studer Education