School and District Improvement

Making significant improvements in underperforming schools and districts is a national priority. CTAC’s innovative Standard Bearer Schools (SBS) process helps schools and districts achieve dramatic results by identifying and addressing the root causes of persistent underperformance.

Our Standard Bearer Schools approach is based on leading national research on organizational improvement in the fields of education, community development, and the corporate sector. This approach is markedly effective because it:

  • Focuses on causes, not symptoms, of underperformance
  • Engages the entire school community, including administrators, teachers, students, and parents
  • Employs data on student academic growth as well as data on organizational conditions, as viewed by all stakeholders

At the heart of the SBS process is the principle that progress is driven and judged by its impact on student achievement. CTAC provides assistance and tools that enable education leaders to identify underlying causes of organizational needs and take targeted action for school and district improvement.

The Standard Bearer Schools process includes:

  • Comprehensive data analysis. CTAC analyzes data from a range of sources, presenting information in user-friendly formats designed to foster insights. We provide the technical assistance and training to develop effective data systems and interpret the data.
  • Organizational assessment. This process engages all constituents in analyzing the school’s core organizational conditions—from climate, curriculum and teacher quality to principal effectiveness, district office support, and parental involvement.
  • School profile. CTAC summarizes findings of the data analysis and organizational assessment, and their implications. We then facilitate carefully guided analyses among school staff and improvement teams, the community and district staff to pinpoint the root causes of achievement gaps.
  • School improvement planning and implementation. Using insights gained, CTAC works with staff and leadership teams to develop and implement effective school and district change strategies. Throughout the process, we provide intensive on-site technical assistance and training—to school teams, principals, district office staff, the community, and school board—to ensure a successful school turnaround.
  • Strategic management. CTAC helps districts identify recurring issues across multiple school sites that need coordinated responses from the central administration.

Through the Standard Bearer Schools process, CTAC has supported dramatically successful turnaround efforts in multiple states. At the Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary School in Lowell, Massachusetts, CTAC implemented the Standard Bearer Schools improvement model that identified the root causes of the school’s underperformance—helping take it from one of the lowest performing schools to the highest performing Level 4 school in the state. The Murkland School met its year three goals after just one year of being involved in the SBS process. Moreover, after sustaining its academic success for three years, Murkland is now recognized as one of only four schools to go from worst to first, from Level 4 to Level 1 (top 20%).

See examples of our experience