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Painesville City Schools Teaching Case

More Improvement Efforts

Key Structures to Support Improvement

The OIP leadership teams (TBTs, BLTs, and DLTs) form the core of Painesville’s improvement efforts. The work of the teams has evolved over the past several years from an emphasis on data analysis to a focus on using data, collaborative inquiry, communication, support, and professional development to improve and refine instruction. The OIP teams have played a critical role in promoting instructional conversations and building trust across the district. Teachers and administrators report that shared leadership is replacing “top-down” decision-making.

Assessment and accountability systems have developed to enable district leaders to monitor the progress of planned actions and to facilitate the sharing of data and materials within and among OIP teams. Painesville has established a centralized online repository that stores information and data from throughout the district, enabling teachers and administrators to analyze and provide feedback on team initiatives, instructional strategies, and learning outcomes.

A number of state and regional support structures have played influential roles in Painesville’s improvement efforts. The influence of a statewide program for expanding the inclusive instructional leadership of principals—OLi4 –helped the district shift from a focus on data to a mindset of using data to evaluate and drive instruction. The State Support Team (SST4) provided an outsider’s impartial perspective that helped the district look critically at its actions and assumptions. Experts from ODE also helped Painesville design its standard-based grading system, and outside consultants provided professional development and training.

Leadership That Guides and Sustains Improvement

A new leadership cohort in the Painesville City Local Schools was instrumental in the district’s improvement process. New central office administrators, including the assistant superintendent and curriculum director, used their thorough understanding of the improvement framework to advance district initiatives and support teachers and building administrators throughout the improvement efforts. The assistant superintendent translated the improvement plan into building-level practice, and recruited professional employees with the shared vision, experience, and drive to implement and sustain change. The curriculum director moved the district to standards-based grading and instituted new language arts initiatives and benchmark assessments. Other critical players include the district’s director of state and federal programs, and the EL program director.

Building principals played vital roles in the district’s improvement process. They provided focus and support, fostered open communication, and ensured accountability. In responding to unique needs within their respective schools, principals boosted literacy efforts, instituted structures for providing intervention and enrichment, improved school climate, and proactively addressed student behavioral issues. Within the buildings, teacher-leaders have taken on key roles, facilitating communication and supporting colleagues throughout the improvement process.

Development of a District-Wide Shared Vision

Painesville’s administrators have been able to sustain a unified vision and direction across the district, building consensus and promoting shared understandings about goals and priorities. There is a climate of trust and mutual accountability in which teachers feel secure implementing new instructional practices and engaging in self-reflection. Feedback is collaborative and nonthreatening. Administrators demonstrate the understanding that new initiatives need support and time to work.

Reflective Questions

Think about improvement initiatives that have been undertaken in your district and the people who were involved in implementing those initiatives.

  • What leadership role did central office administrators, building administrators, and teacher-leaders play?
  • What qualities and actions made those leaders effective (or ineffective) at promoting “buy-in” among stakeholders, creating a unified vision and direction, and connecting the initiatives to building-level practices?