Case Study: Comprehensive School Improvement

Odyssey Community School was founded in 1997 in Manchester 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 district averages but also frequently ranked below the state average in some subject areas and grade levels.

In 2020, Odyssey was invited to apply for a “Getting to Great” improvement grant from a private funding organization to support a structured school improvement process. School stakeholders selected SchoolWorks as a comprehensive improvement partner. To read the full details of this engagement and view progress data, access the complete case study here.

"It was an eye-opening experience of learning how to action plan, look for trends, and complete observations."
- Lisa Kimyachi, Special Education Program Coordinator
The Challenge

Demonstrate measurable improvement in student outcomes within three years.

The Approach
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 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 assessment data.

"We have grown in our ability to identify areas of need and identify potential root causes. With this, we have been able to come up with more successful action plans. We have also been more effective at streamlining our goals, so it doesn’t feel like we are trying to accomplish a million things at once. "
- Jenn Renkiewicz, Odyssey Teacher

Smarter Balanced Assessment: At the close of this partnership, Odyssey Community School was distinguished as one of only four charter schools in Connecticut to outperform the state average in both ELA and math on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). Not surprisingly, the most significant gains in student outcomes were evident in 2022 SBAC scores, when in-person classroom instruction had fully resumed at the school. In math, the average schoolwide percentage of students exhibiting a proficiency of Level 3 and above increased from 27% in 2021 to 41% in 2022. In English language arts, the percentage grew from 42% to 52%. Significant gains were also evident in both math and ELA across almost all grade levels.

NWEA MAP Growth Assessment: Throughout the effort, academic progress was also measured using the NWEA MAP Growth assessment. This assessment measures academic achievement and growth with greater frequency and provides comparative, normed data of students across the country. With MAP Growth, the Rasch Unit (RIT) score measures levels of academic difficulty in equal intervals. According to data reports measuring progress from fall 2021 to spring 2022, Odyssey students exhibited a progressive increase in average RIT scores in both math and reading across almost all grade levels.

"Our partnership with SchoolWorks has resulted in a great deal of measurable progress. Our school team looks forward to the continued impact of this ongoing work."
- Philip O'Reilly, Executive Director


Dates: 2020-2023

For more information on forming a comprehensive school improvement process best suited to your school, please contact us here.

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