PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY
Teacher collaboration impacts student achievement and, in particular, collaboratively looking at student work improves student achievement. That was part of the "what works" message recently delivered by Brian McNulty to Superintendents and Secondary School Principals at their respective state conferences. He specifically mentioned the use of structured protocols to guide the collaborative analysis of student work that would change teachers' instruction. Several protocols are universally available, but many are only available through Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) centers and the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF), a CES partner. Critical friends groups, what we now call Collaborating for Students' Success, are research-based strategies that improve student achievement.
Training in the use of these protocols builds professional learning communities with a laser focus on student work and student performance. Michigan CES provides professional learning services to schools committed to improving student achievement. Services, customized for each school, follow the MCES Roadmap for Student Achievement and align with the new School Improvement Framework. Both focus on standards-driven curriculum and instruction and data-driven decision making. Educators use an inquiry-based, collaborative approach to examine the data (including student work), compare the current reality with their desired student outcomes, and reflect on improving instructional practice.
Many schools need support to develop professional learning communities that engage in the collection and analysis of student performance data. They need professional learning and coaching support to work together to align their instructional practices and student assessments with the state standards and content expectations and to collaboratively look at student work. They may need support to examine their classroom and schoolwide practices compared to research-based "best practice." With ongoing and focused professional learning and support, the schools demonstrate improvement in teaching and learning and the capacity to sustain improvement efforts.