Culture, Climate & Organization Efficacy

Making Schools the Hub of Engaged Communities

District-level continuous improvement efforts in Jenks

Using continuous improvement strategies, Jenks schools decreased its teacher turnover, increased its student performance, and launched innovative programs. They use a Pathway-Do-Study-Act [PDSA] process to review and adjust procedures and practices around key measures. With teamwork being a core value, school sites and departments have working committees to share the discussion and decisions. Learn more.

Community Schools

The Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative [TACSI] engages students in learning connected to their community. The community members are active within and beyond the school day and families support the school and its programs. Through this initiative, outcomes for at-risk students are improving3. Learn more about Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative visit their website. Find more information about the national Coalition of Community Schools on their web site.

Teacher and Student Advancement [TAP]

This program supports professional growth of teachers in teams and as individuals. It provides educators with opportunities to try different roles and responsibilities, small group and personalized professional development, and differentiated evaluation. Learn more.

The Coalition for Community Schools

Building capacity for community schools provides a series of monographs to support members in a local school partnership. Learn more.


Communities in schools partners with schools to determine needs of students and build relationships with local agencies, businesses, health care providers and volunteers to provide resources to support improved student learning. Learn more.

Engaging Parents and Students in Personalized Learning Pathways

When parents and teachers share in the development of expected learning outcomes for their students and for the school, they contribute significantly to school improvement (Bryk et al., 2010). Learning pathways are one way to share these expectations. This year, educators in 35 states can view data about individual students from multiple years, which helps inform their pathways, and in 14 states parents can view data about their students.

Data Quality Campaigns provide steps for states to create a culture for using data. Learn more.

CCSSO Partnership for Next Generation Learning

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) set forth critical attributes for student learning experiences. Through the Next Generation Learning-Innovation Lab network, they promoted personalized learning with data-driven goals and progress monitoring with appropriate supports for student academic and developmental growth. This framework engages and motivates all students for college and career readiness. Learn more.

Poway, California

The Poway School District in California has a learning approach that uses regular assessments to measure student growth and encourage students to set goals for their own learning. Parent workshops encourage parents to create family goals. Since implementation, schools have seen an increase in student learning, the community has passed a school bond, and students are more motivated to engage in academic tasks (National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group, 2010). Learn more.

High school career tracking

In Olathe, Kansas, the high schools integrate 18 strands for students to focus on career fields of interest. Each student has core classes, yet participates in several hours of specific classes in a selected area of interest. Classes include projects and internships at local businesses that allow students to authentically apply what they are learning. Learn more.

State and district pathways

Several states and districts allow students to progress through the curriculum as they master academic content, providing flexibility for students. Learn more.

Working Together for Continuous Improvement and Encouraging Innovation

Georgia data link

Beginning in 2009, Georgia state education leaders joined with local administrators to collaborate on a virtual “tunnel” to link state-level data directly to district-level student information systems. Allowing district educators to access state education data through the district’s existing data systems, local educators can view and compare state- and local-performance data. Even parents have access to longitudinal data to support their child’s learning. Learn more.

Menomonee Falls

The village of Menomonee Falls [MF] is located in the greater Milwaukee area with a population of approximately 32,600. Its mission is to provide the best personalized and comprehensive education. In 2011, MF had a 100 percent graduation rate and high academic achievement. The district added instructional coaches and partnered with consultants to provide technical assistance to implement cycles of Pathway-Do-Study-Act [PDSA]. After two years, the district demonstrated both reasonable success in implementation as well as results in instruction and operation performances. Learn more.


In 2006, Strive was a coordinated effort by community leaders in the greater Cincinnati area to address the lack of coordination among organizations in the community. The Strive network facilitates conversations among community-based partner organizations to develop a shared understanding of issues and collective solutions. Strive provides data tools to support the districts’ work toward shared goals. Learn more.

Embracing and Celebrating Diversity

Parent-teacher teams that support student learning

Arizona’s Creighton Elementary School District K-8 schools with a large poverty population and many English Language Learners have organized academic parent-teacher teams as an alternative to the traditional parent-teacher conference. Teachers share student performance data and work with parents to set parent-student academic goals (National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group, 2010). Learn more.

Foreign language immersion

Foreign language immersion schools offer students an introduction and understanding of different cultures, languages and an awareness of our global community.

Eisenhower International School,Tulsa

This school has a full immersion program that begins in kindergarten. Students are taught in either French or Spanish, with the English curriculum increased each year until there is a 50-50 in fifth grade. Learn more.

Tulsa’s Zarrow International School

This school immerses children in the Spanish language. Learn more.

Norman Public Schools

One school implemented a foreign language partial immersion program starting with kindergarten students and continuing through fifth grade at a new school site. They are taught half the day in English and half the day in French. Learn more.

Building a Culture of Safety, Physical Health, and Mental Well-being for All Children and Adults

Early childhood health screening and parent involvement

Project EAGLE Community Programs of the University of Kansas Medical Center provide families with children aged 0-4 answers to their two most important questions: “Is my child developing normally?” “What can I do to help him become more school ready?” Routine child screening and parent engagement support for healthy child development are included (National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group, 2010). Learn more.

Before- and after-school care for secondary students

The schools in Olathe, Kan., keep students before and after the school day to keep them safe and engaged in learning activities. The schools have divided the care into several interest zones. Learn more.

Interagency agreements to serve students with severe behavioral concerns


A multiagency agreement for children in Florida was signed in 2012 to coordinate services for those served by more than one agency. Learn more.


Act 264 in 2005 was implemented to serve children and adolescents experiencing severe emotional disturbance. The interagency agreement between the Vermont Department of Education and the Vermont Agency of Human Services expanded the target population. Learn more.

Monitoring and Enhancing a Healthy and Welcoming School Culture and Climate

A most basic requirement for students is a safe and orderly environment that supports academic work (Bryk et al., 2010). Schools that consistently scored better than predicted on standardized tests showed substantially more positive levels of school climate than other schools did. Thus, climate improvement should be a part of the solution for school improvement (Voight, Austin, & Hanson, 2013).

School Climate Standards

The National School Climate Council has established national standards for school climate and developed a toolkit for assisting schools in implementing the standards. The Council offers a five-step school climate improvement process. Learn more.

School Climate Surveys

The Center for the Study of School Climate conducts practical research on strategies for assisting school and community leaders to improve the learning climate in schools. They offer the American School Climate (ASC™) Survey Series. Also, they partnered with the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education to conduct the What We Think survey. Learn more.

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