Bloomfield’s first priority goal was to implement a Holistic Accountability System, which would align school funding, standards-based instruction, teacher professional development, and teacher/administrator evaluation. The term “Holistic Accountability” refers to a system that includes not only academic achievement scores, but also specific information on curriculum, teaching, and leadership practices.
The process established district, school, and grade-level data teams to examine student performance and how adult actions needed to change in order to improve student performance. When implemented well, the data team process provides time for teachers to collaborate and share effective practices regularly, which has proven to raise student achievement.
At the district-level, Bloomfield developed specific areas for improvement; the key strategies and steps needed for progress in those areas; the metrics needed to measure success; and the individuals responsible for this work.
Then, each school-level data team developed its own school improvement plan, based upon the district’s objectives, but using school-specific data. Each school data team’s work therefore impacts both the school improvement plan and the district’s over-arching plan. The process is incredibly open and transparent. (You can read each school accountability plan in the district here.)
But Bloomfield goes even further. Within schools, grade-level and/or subject-level teams of teachers also meet regularly to drill down to the performance of individual students. As a group, these professional educators get together to talk about what they can do to improve the educational experience for each student. They share their instructional strategies and collaborate on ways to address academic challenges.
In addition to systematically improving outcomes, the data teams approach has the added benefit of creating a district-wide culture in which all adults have aligned goals, feel responsible for all students’ learning, and have built positive, collaborative, professional learning communities.
Creating a common time for groups of teachers to work together takes creative scheduling, and each school in Bloomfield has provided time for this important work in its own way.
As an example, Bloomfield High School has tackled the problem–in the face of a seven period school day with comprehensive course offerings–by careful scheduling. Its weekly calendar is purposefully constructed to allow teachers from each department to meet together on a weekly basis. In addition, Bloomfield High School releases students early every Wednesday so that teachers have time for collaboration and professional development. In order to ensure that students do not lose instructional time as a result of early dismissal on Wednesdays, the High School lengthened the instructional time on that day by shaving 10 minutes from lunch and one minute from hallway transitions.
Laurel School’s principal took a different approach. His elementary school teachers meet twice a month at each grade level, once to discuss math goals and once to discuss reading. Classes like music, art, and physical education are scheduled at the same time across the school–which frees up teachers in the core courses, so that they have time to meet.
In Bloomfield, every data team meeting is treated as a priority. Principals attend school, grade, and subject-level data team meetings regularly. They provide assistance with data analysis and ideas on effective teaching practices. In addition, district administrators make unannounced visits to school and grade-level meetings to monitor and support the process.
In Bloomfield, Holistic Accountability is everyone’s work, and it shows!
Click on the buttons below to learn about Bloomfield’s three other priorities, or to return to the overview page.