Planning for Success

plans pix

Our intermediate unit hosted a joint meeting between our Special Education and Curriculum Advisory Councils on January 9, 2009.  We gave groups of administrators planning documents required by the PA Department of Education such as Strategic Plan, Professional Education Plan, Induction Plan, Technology Plan, Special Education Plan, School Improvement Plan...etc... These plans were from real schools in PA. We asked the teams to count up the number of initiatives listed across the plans and to evaluate the alignment between the plans.

Their analysis was telling. While some plans had alignment, others did not. One group counted 87 initiatives within the document. This did not include any grants the district had. With scare resources such as time, money and personnel... can schools realistically achieve 87 goals? What about 50? What about 20? Myself, I think the answer lies closer to three or four.

There are plenty of reasons why their is so much misalignment in plans.... multiple authors, various time frames for completion, new requirements... and the list goes on. We're like salmon swimming up stream to get alignment across all planning documents. Below are the list of solutions generated by the participants.

Plan Solutions

Mike Schmoker had the following to say about planning............

What's a good number of goals for a school to have? Can you have too many?

There is indeed a danger of having too many. It seems to me that if a goal, an annual improvement goal, is worth its salt, it's a goal for which you're willing to meet a minimum of once a month.

Now, if you have two goals, that's two monthly meetings. And even if those monthly meetings are in the area of 30-some minutes, which is really enough time to get a lot of good work done, in many cases—I've seen lots of schools do this—you're still talking about two meetings a month. Two meetings, in the economy of all the stuff that goes on in any school, is probably about as much as we can handle.


dbittner said…
This activity had to be an eye opener for the district's that attended in understanding that all their various district plans need to focus on some common goals if they truly want to attain school improvement. Realizing that more initiatives in a plan does not make a better plan is a necessary first step towards actual school improvement. I am sure there was a sense of relief, as well, that fewer initiatives that have a common alignment across all district plans is what is being promoted and is so much more doable than what many of our districts presently are dealing with in their schools.

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