The Florida Department of Education provides an easy-to-understand system for assessing school performance using the A, B, C, D, or F scale. The school for which the initiative is prepared has had a C grade for the last three years. Thus, the measures presented aim to raise the score from C to B or higher. The proposed reformation system is based on the shared responsibility and decision-making of all participants in the educational process, including teachers, parents, and students. Key measures include establishing the principal in a leadership position, establishing an administrative committee and regulating its relationship with teachers, improving the curriculum and teachers’ testing system, developing a collaborative approach, and e-learning programs. Applying the techniques described can bring a positive change concerning student achievement, as well as teachers’ satisfaction and productivity.
Shared Responsibility and Decision-Making
Establishing influential leadership positions and democratic relationships is paramount to enhancing student achievement and education quality in secondary school. To introduce the described changes, it is first of all necessary to develop “a web of moral obligations that administrators, teachers, parents, and even students must accept” (Ornstein, Pajak & Ornstein, 2015, p. 238). There are two aspects of the sharing of responsibilities for this task: to exercise leadership and to ensure the success of leadership. In this case, committee members, including the principal, department chairs, counselors, subject area coaches, and an assistant supervisor, share areas of responsibility among themselves, establishing democratic relationships. The committee’s main function is a collective responsibility, which “is promoted through the staff decision-making and shared norms about the missions of the school” (Juvonen et al., 2004, p. 105). Thus, improving student performance depends on systemic changes in the principles of building interaction within the school and between participants in the educational process.
Principal’s Leadership Position
The principal supervises and administers the school and coordinates subordinate structures to ensure that student needs are met. However, his supervision should not be about strict accountability in a formal sense but about caring for students, parents, and teachers. Thus, the principal’s primary task is to monitor the processes taking place in the school, collect information about existing problems and discuss their solutions with other participants in the educational process. As part of effective education, the “principal’s job is to put forth to the staff an agenda” (as cited in Ornstein et al., 2015, p. 239). A leader’s role is to guide teachers, students, and parents to improve overall achievement and address emerging problems. Democratic relations between the participants in the process are of key importance in this regard.
Teachers and the Committee
The school must be run by the teachers and the students, not by the administration, to operate effectively. The participants in the process must have common values and commitments, as well as goals that they strive to achieve together. Thus, all aspects of classroom learning depend on the individual teacher but are discussed and improved through committee decisions. In this regard, managers and the subject area coaches play a significant role.
Managers perform the function of communication between students, teachers, and parents, which is essential for the educational process’s organization. Özdemir & Demiray (2019) claim that a “school’s success is the effectiveness of the processes of communication which take place in that school” (p. 146). In this regard, managers should prioritize interaction between teachers and parents, identifying teacher needs and attitudes, and regulating executive issues (Özdemir & Demiray, 2019). Thus, the range of responsibilities of a manager includes the implementation of an effective motivation system for personnel and ensuring the setting of educational goals which meet the expectations of all participants. It is also important to monitor the level of certification of teachers within the taught subject and organize the necessary training and support.
Management’s function of maintaining and developing teacher qualifications is closely related to the subject area coach’s role, which is responsible for ensuring that the school curriculum meets the department’s requirements. Responsibilities also include identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the teacher, mentoring, consulting, as well as finding and implementing innovative approaches (Wolpert-Gawron, 2016). Notably, the development of professional qualities should be following the individual goals of the teacher; otherwise, the instructions might be ignored. In this regard, it is necessary to divide employees into groups that represent similar interests and values, as well as assign a leader to each of them. Thus, each team will be able to articulate their proposals to the administration, which will help avoid additional difficulties in identifying existing issues.
Based on students’ learning goals and teachers’ values, an effective curriculum can be designed considering the needs of the participants. In this case, the committee performs the function of analyzing reported and observed issues, as well as established standards trying to combine them within the educational process. Since the school’s teachers are concerned with the overall performance of the class, it is necessary to hire six specialized subject tutors. They will help a quarter of the least successful students improve their knowledge in key areas. This measure will help reduce the burden on teachers and achieve approximately the same level of knowledge among all students in the class, which will make curriculum development and implementation less challenging.
Learning Curriculum and Teacher’s Testing System
The curriculum includes not only the knowledge and skills to be mastered by the students but also the teacher’s competence and goals. First of all, the program should be developed considering specific learning objectives and cover particular aspects. The teacher should focus not on a broad topic but on certain skills, which should be reflected in the grading system (Ornstein et al., 2015). The teacher also must understand what kind of knowledge gained by students during the course should be assessed at the end of the course. It is also necessary to be able to determine which parts of the curriculum are effective and which need to be improved. Therefore, the committee should establish a teacher testing system that can be used to measure the teaching program’s effectiveness and skill level. The test should consider the aspects described above and identify weaknesses in the curriculum, with which the coach and manager will then work. Nevertheless, many teachers may find recommendations for a radical change in the program without enthusiasm, so it is important to implement only the necessary transformations.
Successful learning process reform requires ongoing collaboration at many levels, from curriculum design to school interactions within the district. First of all, it is necessary to implement “certain pedagogical practices, including differentiated curricula through the flexible grouping of students, authentic assessments, and cooperative learning groups” (Juvonen et al., 2004, p. 102). Moreover, teachers should be constantly sent to conferences and meetings where district school representatives can share experiences and proposals. A special role in this is played by the coaches already described, who build a local network that connects schools and collectives with the same goals and values. Thus, to increase the school’s performance, it is not enough to introduce internal reforms. It is also crucial to establish collaboration with other educational institutions to exchange the necessary experience and information.
The development of e-learning programs is also a priority, as it enhances the educational opportunities of students. The main aspects to be considered are cognitively diverse and demanding activities, constant interaction between teacher and students, and a relevant system of assessing results (Schwartz, 2020). Tools such as Canvas or Microsoft Teams’ virtual platform can provide both additional learning opportunities for interested students and support the education process during a pandemic.
The described measures, which include systematic reform of not only the educational process but also the learning environment in the school, can result in raising the overall school performance grade to B and above. Creating an administrative committee led by the principal will help establish interaction between teachers, parents, and management. Coaches will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of teachers to work on developing their professional skills. The test system will help to more accurately and efficiently develop a learning curriculum and assess teachers’ competence. Collaboration within the school and the educational district will allow the exchange of experience with other educational institutions. E-learning will provide opportunities for additional education or support of the learning process in a pandemic. Thus, the developed initiative will help to increase the level of student performance through attention to the needs of all participants in the educational process and the continuous development of skills and curriculum adaptation.
Juvonen, J., Le, V. N., Kaganoff, T., Augustine, C. H., & Constant, L. (2004). Focus on the wonder years: Challenges facing the American middle school. RAND Corporation.
Ornstein, A. C., Pajak, E. G., & Ornstein, S. B. (2015). Contemporary issues in curriculum (6th ed.). Pearson.
Özdemir, A, & Demiray, G. (2019). Study of the relationship between school managers’ communicative skills and schools’ atmosphere. Journal of Education and Learning, 8(2), 145-164. Web.
Schwartz, S. (2020). Classroom routines must change. Here’s what teaching looks like under COVID-19. EducationWeek. Web.
Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016). The many roles of an instructional coach. Educational Leadership, 73, 56-60.