• School Improvement Planning and NCStar


    Halifax County Schools' requires all elementary and secondary schools to house their School Improvement Plan in NCStar. NCStar is a web-based tool that guides a district or school team in charting its improvement and managing the continuous improvement process. The tool is managed by the School Improvement Team but more specifically, by the Process Manager.

    The school's NCStar Process Manager assists the principal in managing the school improvement process. The principal shares access to the NCStar tool with the Process Manager. He or she manages the timely uploading of minutes/agendas, school improvement documents, views & responds to feedback, and works collaboratively with the School Improvement Team chairperson to ensure adjustments to actions are addressed. The district encourages all school administrators to ensure that SIT members and the NCStar Process Manager are familiar with their roles and responsibilities in NCStar and the school's improvement pathway (i.e., Restart Schools).  NCStar training sessions are provided by NC DPI consultants upon request as well as regional training is scheduled across the state throughout the year.  Click Link for locations. 

    NCStar builds accountability as well as helps schools track their improvement plans. It is premised on the firm belief that district and school improvement is best accomplished when directed by the people, working in teams, closest to the students. NCStar requires a "culture of candor" in which district and school personnel talk openly and honestly about their professional practices that contribute to student learning. (Reference: Link)

    Explore: Link

    Click the link above to read about the NC DPI's perspective on School Improvement Planning. NCDPI states, "School Improvement Planning is more than a plan, it is a framework for change."  The plan is imaged as a map that identifies the school’s most direct route to reach a destination and requires both decision-making and action from a variety of stakeholders. Dr. Sam Redding's The Mega System Handbook is quoted as saying “High-functioning schools and schools cited for their effectiveness do the right things, do them continuously, and always look for ways to improve. Schools that fail with comprehensive school reform do so not for lack of resources, other than time, but for want of determination and internal discipline.”

    Question: Do you agree with the excerpt: "Schools that fail with comprehensive school reform do so not for lack of resources, other than time, but for want of determination and internal discipline.  

    "NCStar contains over 100 research-based effective practices (indicators) and allows schools flexibility to personalize their school improvement plans to meet their distinct needs. NCStar brings all stakeholders into the continuous improvement process by allowing "view-only" capability and "real-time" transparency of the school improvement plan process to all staff, district personnel, school board members, and parents.

    "For more information, contact Alessandro Montanari, Program Administrator

    Need to Know:

    I. School Improvement Planning

    1. Principals, assistant principals, teachers, and other instructional staff at each school are responsible for designing and implementing strategies to reach the educational goals of the board. Input from the school community, including parents, students, and representatives from businesses and other agencies, is critical in developing an educational program that will meet the needs of the students and the community.
    2. The school improvement plan is one tool that school administrators should use to draw upon the creativity and innovation of the staff and the community.  This plan should identify the school’s efforts to improve student performance and reach the educational goals of the board.

    I.  Development of the School Improvement Plan 

    1. Each school must develop a school improvement plan that considers the goals set out in the mission statement for the public schools adopted by the State Board of Education (“State Board”) and the annual performance goals for that school as established by the State Board under G.S. § 115C-105.35
    2. All schools should ensure, to the extent possible, that sufficient resources and curricula are directed toward meeting the goal of having all students performing at grade level or higher in the basic subject and skill areas identified by the State Board. 

    II.  The School Improvement Team

    1. The School Improvement Team develops the school improvement plan and obtains board approval. 
    2. The school improvement team consists of the principal, representatives of the assistant principals, instructional personnel, instructional support personnel, teacher assistants assigned to the school building, and parents of students attending the school. 
    3. The school elects representatives from their respective group by secret ballot. 
    4. Parents are elected in accordance with G.S. 115C-105.27. The school improvement team is encouraged to involve and seek assistance from central office personnel. 
    5. The school improvement team, especially at the middle and high schools, is also encouraged to seek input from students. 
    6. Principals work together with school improvement teams to develop, review, and amend school improvement plans.

    III. Mandatory Components of the School Improvement Plan

    A school improvement plan must include the following components:

    1.  Effective instructional practices and methods used to improve the academic performance of students identified as at risk of academic failure or at risk of dropping out of school.
    2. Minimum annual performance goal established by the State Board and the goals set out in the mission statement for public schools adopted by the State Board.
    3. Data-driven: identified root causes for problems and actions
    4. Clear, unambiguous targets, explicit indicators, actual measures, and expeditious timeframes for meeting measurement standards.
    5. Allocation of staff development funds 
    6. Duty-free lunch period for every teacher on a daily basis or as otherwise approved by the school improvement team.
    7. Duty-free instructional planning time for every full-time assigned classroom teacher, with the goal of providing an average of at least five hours of planning time per week.
    8. Identify and eliminate unnecessary and redundant reporting 
    9. Address safety and discipline concerns. 
    10. The safe school plan should be integrated into the school improvement plan.
    11. Identify the goals and strategies for parents to be involved in their child’s education and in the educational program of the school.
    12. Process by which the school improvement team will review the school improvement plan at least once a year. 
    13. The annual review process must include (1) a review of student scores on all state- and board-mandated tests and (2) a means for the school improvement team to modify the plan, if necessary, when the school has not met the expected growth score established by the state.
    14. The plan must require the principal to notify the superintendent if the school improvement team modifies a board-accepted school improvement plan.
    15. Strategies for meeting the educational objectives of the board
    16. Intervention strategies for students who are not at grade-level proficiency or who are not likely to meet standards of promotion measured by other means.

    Explore: The NCStar Process (Link)


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