As KIPP has grown into one of the nation’s largest charter management organizations, SchoolWorks has played an evolving role in helping ensure that its regional networks maintain the same quality as its earlier schools. “KIPP believes strongly in the power to lead and autonomy at the campus and regional level, but they needed a system to support quality assurance and to assist with ongoing leader development,” says Project Manager Beth Friedman.
As KIPP’s aggressive growth strategy shifted to a regional approach, it sought SchoolWorks’ help in adapting its school quality review process to assess the quality of both regional central offices and individual schools and their leaders.
Using KIPP’s individual school review process as a foundation, SchoolWorks worked with the organization’s leaders to develop protocols for regional reviews, which assess the operations, communication structures, and leadership systems of KIPP’s regional offices. “It’s a comprehensive review of similar domains on a larger scale,” explains Friedman. “On a school level, for example, you’re looking at communication between school leadership and teachers, while at the regional level, you’re looking at the communication between the executive director and individual school leaders.”
SchoolWorks also conducts KIPP’s “successor leader reviews,” a protocol for schools undergoing leadership transitions in which new leaders serve as team members during a site review, gaining a unique perspective on the schools they’re about to lead. Both protocols are based on indicators of school health developed by KIPP at both the school and regional level. “They have their own language and way of approaching school health, so we made sure all the tools we use feel relevant,” Friedman says. “Having tools that speak to the current state of an organization is critical.”
Through its work on reviews at all levels, SchoolWorks helped build KIPP’s formative feedback structures and establish a common language around the CMO’s school health indicators throughout its network. “Since KIPP’s healthy schools and regions indicators are the basis of our protocol, everyone who participates in these reviews at all levels are all talking about school health using a common language,” Friedman explains. The partnership continues to evolve, with SchoolWorks revising its classroom visit tool to incorporate elements from KIPP’s new framework for excellent teaching.
KIPP leaders at all levels rate SchoolWorks services highly, saying that the review process has helped them focus on the organization’s frameworks guiding school health. “KIPP has always been a reflective organization, but our collaboration with SchoolWorks has strengthened our common understanding of effective school and regional health,” says Julia Martin, process management director for the KIPP Foundation. “SchoolWorks not only worked with us to adapt their protocols to align with our indicators, but also continuously re-visited and revised the protocol as our organization evolved, indicating that they truly understood our needs and culture of constant learning.”