At the October Board of Education Meeting, Superintendent Michael Brandt unveiled the District's Strategic Plan. The Plan outlines specific steps for improvement that will lead to better outcomes for our students. In the document, the Vision, Mission, and Core Beliefs for the District are defined as well as Essential Practices that will guide the work.
On October 27, 2016, Kelly Cantwell, Editor of the Clermont Sun wrote an article about the process. The article does a great job explaining the process that the district went through to create and implement the Strategic Plan. We have included that below.
By Kelly Cantwell
Clermont Northeastern Local School District is taking a new direction this school year, after Superintendent Michael Brandt created a strategic plan.
When Brandt started his new position in August 2015, the district did not have a strategic plan. The board of education asked Brandt to create one within a year. They formally adopted the plan on Oct. 17. A strategic plan has elements including a vision statement, a mission statement, core beliefs and non-negotiables, which are things the teachers will do everyday.
Brandt spent his first year at the district assessing and observing, so he would not make any judgements until he saw an entire school year. Then over the summer Brandt evaluated his findings.
While Brandt was starting his research, the Ohio Department of Education placed the district in the Ohio Improvement Process as a result of unsatisfactory performance on the ODE report cards. CNE’s major issues were in math and reading.
“Rather than seeing that as any kind of penalty, we embraced that,” Brandt said.
Due to that, Brandt’s task became to organize the district around the OIP, meaning that the strategic plan would use data-driven decision making. Part of the OIP involves creating a district leadership team, a building leadership team at each building in the district and teacher-based teams that all the teachers are part of.
“It’s just about educational decisions and the whole idea of OIP is building instructional capacity,” Brandt said.
The ODE has 16 state support teams for districts implementing OIP. State Support Team 13 helped Brandt get organized, after which he assessed the district’s goals.
The goals, which include improving student academic achievement levels, improving teaching and learning environment, reducing dropouts and many more, were rated by Brandt and were largely found not to be benefiting the district, Brandt said.
He evaluated the goals and created improvement strategies so that the district’s goals would be beneficial.
“The goals are the same. How we’re dealing with it is dramatically changing,” Brandt said.
He also asked each building to rate themselves as part of a Moving Your Numbers exercise. Moving Your Numbers is a program run by the National Center on Educational Outcomes that works on improving instructional practices. The exercise asked buildings to look at characteristics of effective practice and rate their building’s degree of implementation. All the buildings were rated as emerging, which is not the lowest score, initiating, but the second lowest.
CNE contracted with the University of Dayton’s Moving Your Numbers Board to help the district write a strategic plan.
“I felt it was necessary to have a really credible leadership team in place guiding this work,” Brandt said.
He also wanted to make sure that the community was involved, so Brandt put out an online survey for parents to take so he could have their input on what should be included in the vision, mission and belief statements. The choices in the survey were research-based examples of the vision, mission and core beliefs from other districts across the country.
“We had 124 responses, which is very rich,” Brandt said.
He also used the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council’s Leadership Development framework as a research-based guide to improvement and started training for teachers on the OIP process twice a week. The training includes how to deal with the “Ohio 5-Step Process,” a process for making decisions and solving problems, and instructional improvement.
“I think staff was very disappointed in our test scores because it’s a hard-working staff and they didn’t feel that the results measured the amount of effort that they had put in, so they realized that we had to look at new strategies to improve our scores,” Brandt said.
Brandt is very appreciative to the union leadership and membership, of which very few resisted the vote on the training.
“We’ve made an all out effort to really put this on a fast track,” Brandt said.
He thinks that the teachers are feeling pressure because of all the new programs the district is implementing, but Brandt said their attitude is wonderful.
In addition, the district contracted with Curriculum Engineers, a company that sends in experts to perform on-site one-on-one coaching, which is going very well. The experts perform duties that a curriculum director, a reading specialist, a math specialist and more would do, without the district having to pay full-time salaries for those roles.
The principals, assistant principals and several central office staff are going through, with coaches, two years of training on implementing OIP and OLAC, which is getting them six hours of credit at The Ohio State University.
“We’re giving a massive amount of training to our administrators on how to work in a distributed leadership model with teacher teams, building teams, everybody on the same team but the leadership is being trained on how to do that well by outside experts,” Brandt said.
The best part of implementing the strategic plan is that the district now has a single focus, Brandt said.
Another tool the district will be using is Measures of Academic Progress, which gives teachers an assessment of each student and where their progress and growth is at in real time. That allows teachers to make immediate changes to help their students, Brandt said.
It can take some time for teachers to get good at using MAP, but most districts that use it see strong improvements in a few years.
“Our job in the next couple years will be to align our instructional resources and update our technology so that we have adequate Chromebooks, that we have the tools the teachers need and then the training the teachers need and then my belief is we’ll see some pretty dramatic results,” Brandt said.
The district leadership team will evaluate data points for each goal yearly and make adjustments in the training schedules.