Case Study: Accountability System Design and Implementation
Students in a classroom

The Colorado State Department of Education wanted to develop a single process for evaluating whether schools were following state-mandated improvement plans, while at the same time ensuring that the process helped local school leaders receive feedback and recommendations that would help them continue to improve instruction.

The Challenge
  • Collaborate with CDE officials to develop a protocol for state-mandated Diagnostic Review Visits (DRVs)
  • Establish a process and protocol for site visits that 1) focus on providing formative feedback to school leaders and the broader community, and 2) determine whether the school is following the Unified Improvement Plan it developed as part of the state-mandated turnaround process
  • Develop and facilitate site visit training for CDE staff
SchoolWorks Approach
  • Tailor the review process to meet the CDE’s needs, working to ensure that each school’s Unified Improvement Plan drives instructional change
  • Create protocols for a debrief session on the final day of the visit, to discuss findings of the review and ensure that all stakeholders play a role in identifying next steps
The Results
  • SchoolWorks conducted visits at 17 schools in nine districts across Colorado in the state’s two lowest performance levels
  • In post-review surveys, participants indicated that the newly-developed debrief process provided concrete areas of focus for continuous improvement
Dates: 2013-16
"Schools appreciate that the work SchoolWorks has done is evidence-based, and that it gives them concrete things to think about. The professional teams that have conducted the DRVs have made the schools feel like the process is objective and allows them to move forward from wherever they are in the improvement process."
- Wendy Dunaway, Colorado Department of Education


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