Case Study: Comprehensive School Improvement
Odyssey Community School was founded in 1997 in Manchester, CT under the first charter granted by the Connecticut State Department of Education. By 2019, the school had expanded to grades K-8 and served a diverse population of more than 330 students. Over the years, Odyssey students consistently demonstrated proficiency percentages above the district average but sometimes ranked below the state average in some subject areas and grade levels. In 2020 Odyssey was invited to apply for a grant from a private funding organization to support a structured school improvement process. School stakeholders selected SchoolWorks as a comprehensive improvement partner.
Demonstrate measurable improvement in student outcomes through a comprehensive school improvement partnership including needs assessment, planning, intervention, and progress monitoring.
Step 1: Needs Assessment
In January 2020, the partnership began with a two-day School Quality Review to identify the school’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Step 2: Planning
The SchoolWorks team collaborated with school stakeholders to develop an Annual Action Plan aligned to the review findings. The plan prioritized three key areas: building consistent teacher collaboration maximized to maintain a clear focus on effective instruction improving instruction; introducing a cycle of regular observation and feedback of classroom instruction by school leaders; and providing professional development aligned to data-informed areas of need.
Step 3: Intervention
To ensure follow-through on the implementation of the action plan, SchoolWorks coaches led a bi-weekly leadership team meeting with the action planning team to assess the follow-through and support on the implementation of the action plan by the school team.
- Collaboration: With the support of coaches, school staff planned and executed common planning meetings across grade levels focused on building teachers’ instructional capacity. Specifically, each grade level created an agenda and facilitated a meeting with either the Principal or Assistant Principal each week.
- Observation and Feedback: The principal, assistant principal, and two teacher leaders were trained and certified to use SchoolWorks Classroom Visit Tool to independently conduct classroom observations at the schools, while coaches supported the cycle of monthly observations and feedback to classroom teachers.
- Professional Development: In partnership with coaches, Odyssey’s leadership team planned and facilitated targeted professional development sessions directly aligned to the school’s improvement plan. Topics included Introduction to Common Planning, Classroom Observation Training and Higher-Order Thinking Strategies.
Step 4: Monitoring
Throughout the program, progress was measured through annual School Quality Reviews and the analysis of NWEA MAP Growth Assessment data.
After the 3-year program, Osyssey was one of four Connecticut charter schools to outperform the state average on both ELA and Math in 21-22. As a result of the program, Odyssey administrators also developed key skills associated with recognizing and supporting high-quality instruction.
- All Odyssey administrators and most of the school’s teachers were trained in the use of the classroom observation tool, gaining a unified understanding of instructional practices associated with positive student outcomes.
- Instructors engaged in professional development to foster responsive classroom practices such as higher-order thinking skills; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and collaborative planning.