Effective schools have a clear focus on improving students achievement. Decisions are based on data and supported by effective planning and resource allocation. Regular monitoring and reviewing of priorities and strategies includes the education community and parents. Progress towards achievement is reported regularly.
Each year the School Planning Council (SPC) must prepare and submit to the board a school plan for the school in respect of improving student achievement. A school planning council must consult with the parents’ advisory council during the preparation of the school plan. The school planning council is comprised of three parents elected by the parent advisory council, a teacher representative elected by the teaching staff. and the school principal.
The following information explains the key elements of school plans in Burnaby. It is taken from a handbook for school planning councils developed by the Burnaby School District.
Key Elements of School Plans in Burnaby
The context includes the mission statement for the school, the enrolment and demographic information regarding the school as well as any unique characteristics, strengths, features and values of the community it serves. The context must also include a clear description of the involvement of parents, staff and students in the development and implementation of the School Plan.
Review of School Goals for the Previous Year
Now that all schools have existing School Plans, it is necessary to summarize the work done during the previous year and the progress made in achieving the previous year’s goals and objectives. This will likely include a description of efforts and initiatives (past and present) which the school has undertaken to improve student performance in various areas. It is also common to show the link between the school’s goals and the district’s goals in order to show the on-going alignment and connections.
The summary should provide:
- baseline date relating to students’ skills or performance in the goal area(s)
- illustrations of strategies employed to help students to improve their achievement in the goal area(s)
- data relating to student achievement in the goal area(s) during the course of the year
- illustrations of both successes and areas for further investigation in relation to the objectives, the performance indicators, the performance targets and the strategies employed.
- This section helps to set the stage for the plan for the coming school year.
Goals and Objectives for the Coming School Year
Goal statements help to focus the school’s efforts to assist students in improving their learning and performance. Goals result from the school having taken measures of student performance in a selected area and found evidence of needs where the school decides to focus attention.
A goal statement should always be stated in terms of improved student learning and achievement. Schools are strongly advised to:
- limit their focus to two or three clear goal statements based on evidence of student performance
- allow for sufficienct time to achieve the goals (because some goals take longer than a school year to achieve, it is strongly recommended that schools indicate whether a goal is seen as short-term or longer-term). For this reason, some schools have elected to have three types of goals: primary (main focus), complementary (secondary focus), and emerging (exploratory stage).
Objectives (Specific Areas of Focus Which Contribute To Achieving the Goal)
In order to make the achievement of a goal more manageable, a short series of specific objectives should be developed on the basis of the data collected which will help to focus the school’s efforts in more concrete ways. Although schools are obviously concerned with the performance of all students, objectives may focus attention on a specific group of under-performing students based on the data collected.
Analysis and Rationale
This section provides the rationale for the selection of each goal and its objectives. It summarizes the data collected and the conclusions reached on the basis of the data. It usually provides a focus on the specific student needs to be met over the coming period of time.
Performance Indicators (Data Sources and Evidence)
Performance indicators are specific measures or pieces of evidence which the school will use to determine student progress towards attainment of goals and objectives. In the process of selecting specific performance indicators, the school identifies the data which will be gathered as well as the sources of the data. By selecting a manageable number of relevant indicators, the school can readily accumulate relevant data and extract key information in order to ascertain whether or not the school’s efforts to enhance student performance are working.
Performance Targets (Expected Results)
Performance targets are clearly stated expectations for short-term and long-term results. They are directly linked to the goals and objectives and outline both the desired level of student performance to be attained and the anticipated timeframe for the improved achievement.
Once the goals, objectives and targets have been set, then the school needs to identify a number of strategies which research, experience and innovative thinking indicate would be promising ways of achieving the intended goals and objectives. This section might include processes which will be used, specific steps which will be taken, and instructional strategies which will be employed. Although the focus of the plan is the school, consideration might also be given to the possibility of including strategies which parents could use at home to reinforce school’s efforts, particularly in areas such as reading and social responsibility.
Structures and Resources
Structures and resources are part of the means by which the strategies for improving student learning are implemented. Structures involve such things as the organization of learners, the creation of task-specific committees and the implementation of an overall teaching-learning strategy. Resources include such things as instructional materials, targeted financial allocations and the specific services provided by personnel.