Building From the Ground Up, Part II

Originally published in CenterEd in April, 2014.

Last week, Stacy Schmit gave us a glimpse of her initial experience as principal of Renaissance Charter School at Tradition in Port St. Lucie, Florida, as it opened its doors for this school year. Having chosen the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model to provide observation and assessment tools, she goes on to describe her school’s path moving forward.

Design Question 1 and the establishment of desired outcomes
One of the key steps in Design Question 1 of the model is providing clear learning goals and scales, but where do those goals and scales come from?

For many schools, goals are provided from a higher level, such as national or state college and career readiness standards, or on the state legislative level. Districts may have distinct learning goals and outcomes that they would like to achieve based on local needs and performance data.

In Renaissance School’s case, aside from Florida’s standards, administrators and staff could establish many of their own desired learning goals, centered on the school’s mission, thanks to their charter status.

A Marzano Center blog series has outlined steps a school leader can take to establish desired learning outcomes:

  • Step One: Consider the goals that your local district has identified.
  • Step Two: Consider what you already use to analyze your student performance.
  • Step Three: Identify the teaching steps that must be taken in order to achieve a learning outcome.
  • Step Four: Consider what the evidence of implementation might be for this goal.
  • Step Five: Consider what the evidence of effectiveness will be for this goal area.
  • Step Six: Consider who will review the evidence of effectiveness, the opportunities to review these data sources, and the documentation that demonstrates they have done this.

A sense of urgency for learning
Now that the school has established its desired outcomes, and the staff is working methodically toward their goals, Renaissance Charter School at Tradition is moving forward with planning for the next school year and beyond as it expands to serve grades 7 and 8.

“Our teachers are targeting individual student needs in their classes, and students in all grades have had significant growth from the beginning of the school year to now on benchmark assessments. Things are going very well. There is a sense of urgency for learning on the part of the students as well as the teachers,” says Schmit.

“This is a great school to be in, and that is echoed in the number of students recommitted for next year — all but four students are coming back.”

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