Case Study: Sustainable School Improvement Support

Since 2018, SchoolWorks has been engaged with The Detroit Children’s Fund, an education funding organization in Michigan, to support Escuela Avancemos and Jalen Rose Leadership Academy on the path to continuous improvement. Escuela Avancemos serves approximately 300 students in grades K-5, and Jalen Rose Leadership Academy serves approximately 400 students in grades 9-12 in Detroit.

The Challenge
  • Increase regularity and quality of observation and feedback cycles.
  • Provide teachers with consistent coaching to improve classroom instruction.
  • Increase regularity and quality of professional learning communities (PLCs).
  • Strengthen teacher practice and student learning across grade level classrooms.
  • Increase regularity and quality of professional development.

SchoolWorks Approach
  • To begin this work, SchoolWorks conducted a School Quality Review at each school in November and December of 2018.
  • In partnership with DCF, SchoolWorks assigned a dedicated coach to each school, who worked with the respective school leadership teams to develop actionable School Improvement Plans aligned to the review findings.
  • SchoolWorks and DCF collaborated with both schools to structure an intensive partnership focused on 1) on-site leadership coaching and 2) instructional training and the implementation of a regular cycle of teacher observation and feedback.
  • Coaches visited schools regularly, providing on-site training and skills development support, and modeling observation and feedback for administrators and instructional leaders.
  • Administrators at both schools were trained and certified to use SchoolWorks Classroom Visit Tool to independently conduct classroom observations at the schools, while coaches supported the cycle of regular observations and feedback to classroom teachers.
The Results
  • At the outset of the engagement, both schools exhibited high levels of need. According to Michigan’s 2018-2019 School Grades Report, Escuela Avancemos was rated a “D” for proficiency in state math and ELA assessments, and a “C” for growth; while Jalen Rose Leadership Academy was rated an “F” in both categories.
  • To date, 12 administrators across both schools have been trained and certified to use SchoolWorks Classroom Visit Tool, exhibiting a 100% pass rate on the year two certification test (up from a 55% initial pass rate in year one).
  • According to mid-year student growth/achievement data (NWEA MAP scores – a school-selected benchmark assessment), both schools were on the path to meet SY19-20 Student Growth Targets in the Spring of 2020. Escuela Avancemos projected that 25% of students were on path to proficient in end of year state exams (up from 19.3% in 2018-2019).
  • While safety precautions as a result of COVID-19 shifted the priorities of school leaders toward the implementation of remote learning models, SchoolWorks coaches continued to work closely with school teams to oversee continued implementation of established data reviews and cycles of inquiry, adapted for the remote environment in 2020 and 2021.
"SchoolWorks coaches come with strong backgrounds leading successful schools and quickly become a valuable part of their partner school’s leadership team: facilitating conversations that push practice, developing PD that raises expectations, and helping the school team stay on track with their improvement strategy. SchoolWorks has been a great partner to DCF and our efforts to improve Detroit schools."
- Jack Elsey, Executive Director of the Detroit Children’s Fund
    Dates: 2018-present

Introducing SchoolWorks Charter Application Bootcamp!

Thinking of launching a charter school? Not sure where to begin? Check out our new online course, brought to you by the trusted experts at SchoolWorks.