Research consistently identifies goal setting as one of the most powerful ways for school systems to improve student performance. The greatest impact comes when goals are well-aligned throughout the entire school system – district, school, classroom and student.
Through our District 105 Strategic Planning process completed last school year, we strengthened the alignment of our goal setting process. Our goal setting efforts start at the district level where we expect our district to rank in the top 10 percent of all districts nationally in student achievement and in the progress our students make from the fall to spring.
Our five schools set goals for student achievement and progress that are aligned to district goals. The schools carefully analyze data to identify their students’ learning needs and determine the best strategies to ensure students meet expectations for learning. The process results in a concise two-page school improvement plan that gets posted on our school websites along with the school dashboards, which display the progress schools are making toward their goals.
This process gets closer to the student level as our school grade level teams align their goals with district and school goals. Teachers analyze the unique needs of their students based on sets of data and develop an improvement plan to help their students fully meet the district’s high expectations for student achievement and progress.
Most importantly, our teachers work with each individual student to set goals for achievement and progress that are consistent with district, school and grade level expectations.
This critical process is best illustrated with an example. One of our third grade students is working with his teacher to set a goal and develop an action plan for improved reading achievement. Together, they identified his need to increase his vocabulary as key to improving his overall reading achievement. He now is developing a plan to increase the amount of his non-fiction reading and complete a Web-based word study. Throughout the year, the teacher and student will monitor his implementation of the plan and his progress. This process not only focuses the work of the student and teacher, it helps his parents understand his needs and what they can do to support the improvement plan at home.
Glenn Schlichting is the superintendent of School District 105