International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement Congress

ICSEI logo

The 28th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement—ICSEI 2015—is a unique gathering that brings together international researchers, educators, and policymakers to share how we can improve children's lives through the best educational practices.

Presenters from as many as 50 countries will provide an international perspective. Colleagues from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are attending to learn and to share research about effective schools and educational programs worldwide. ICSEI 2015 builds on its previous 27 international conferences, most recently in Chile and Indonesia offering an opportunity for researchers, policy makers and practitioners to gather in centrally located Cincinnati to address today’s pressing educational challenges.

ICSEI 2015 themes draw on the best of research and professional wisdom to explore the history and future of school reform; teacher effects from 1970s to the present; school- and system-level improvements; and the global and local implications of the 2013 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores.

Education Northwest will be involved in the presentation of five sessions:

Mobilizing Communities for Better Educational Outcomes

Steve Fleischman, Education Northwest
Teachers and schools alone cannot close the educational and social opportunity gaps that persist in many societies. More systemic efforts are required by communities as a whole for student outcomes—particularly for traditionally underserved children and youth—to improve. At the community level in the United States, numerous municipalities are now pursuing so-called “collective impact” reform initiatives that apply a systems perspective to achieve better educational and life outcomes for children and youth. The hope is that coordinated action across multiple public and private sectors in a community will yield the sustained educational improvements that have so far eluded many local school systems. A recently issued study produced by the symposium chair’s organization documents this growing phenomenon in the Northwest region of the United States, and identifies common early challenges faced by its leaders in creating and managing collective impact initiatives. A review of the report will serve as a springboard for participants to discuss whether and how collective impact–like efforts are taking place in their countries. The potential to create a common research agenda and a global network to track this approach will be explored.

How San Jose Unified School District Is Taking a College Readiness Indicator System to Scale and Transforming Leadership Culture on the Way

Nettie Legters, Education Northwest; Douglas MacIver, Johns Hopkins University; Jason Willis, San Jose Unified School District; Emalie McGinnis, San Jose Unified School District
San Jose Unified School District is scaling up its college readiness indicators system (CRIS) districtwide through a unique redesign process that links every school principal with central-office staff in routine, data-driven cycles of inquiry. The process features unprecedented commitments to purposeful communication between school- and system-based leaders; support for innovation; shared accountability for progress and results; and robust data and reporting systems to stay grounded in student outcomes. This paper offers an in-depth case study based on real-time interviews and observations. It details core components of the new approach, initial implementation lessons, adjustments made in the second year, and how system leaders are using the work to advance school improvement and create a data-driven education improvement culture at scale.

Rapid, Inquiry-Driven Change in a Small, Rural High School: Addressing a Critical Reading Challenge Through Systematic Innovation

Mike Siebersma, Education Northwest
This poster highlights early results from a small rural high school’s systematic change process to improve students’ college readiness by addressing critical reading skills. The leadership team applied a rapid inquiry-driven change cycle (RICC) involving diagnostic data and root cause analyses, planning, testing, and collaborative reflection on near-term results. Over the first 12-week change cycle, the school realized a 27 percent increase in students reaching benchmark. The initiative also strengthened leadership, improved structures across the system, and built greater coherence and collaboration into the culture. Participants will learn about the school’s approach and how leaders addressed system conditions necessary for success.

Rural School Improvement Networks: Challenges and Possibilities

Danette Parsley, Education Northwest; Liz Cox, Boston College
Rural school educators are often isolated and have few opportunities to learn from neighboring schools or colleagues. This is an especially daunting challenge for low-performing, rural schools faced with implementing significant reform efforts (e.g., turnaround approaches, educator effectiveness systems, college- and career-ready standards and assessments). This portion of the symposium examines a case example of a school improvement network that connects “like with like” rural and remote schools and districts within the Northwest region of the United States striving to build professional capital and enhance student engagement and achievement by undertaking joint action learning projects. The NW RISE network spans three states; members include teams of teacher leaders, principals, and superintendents in addition to state education agency staff. Though the NW RISE network is still in early implementation, we have identified several important lessons learned from the design and launch phases (the first two years of the project) that may be helpful to others as they initiate network efforts. The lessons were generated by analyzing data, such as meeting notes, webinar recordings, and project evaluation data, to address the question: What are some key considerations for designing and launching a rural network spanning a large geographic area? The presenters will discuss a set of challenges and possibilities organized by the eight network architecture design elements presented in the previous portion of the symposium. For example, findings from the design phase indicate challenges with identification and agreement on shared goals for the network. Reaching consensus on the vision and purpose of a network spanning a large geographic region with several different policy priorities and other unique contextual factors requires substantial time, careful facilitation, executive sponsorship, and a core group of highly motivated and invested leaders with a high tolerance for ambiguity. This portion of the symposium will highlight several such lessons in an effort to illustrate practical considerations for translating theory to practice.

A Piece of the Puzzle: Expanded Learning Time for School Improvement in Oregon, USA

Caitlin Scott, Education Northwest; Jennifer McMurrer, Center on Education Policy at The George Washington University
Under certain conditions, expanded learning time is a powerful tool for improving schools. Why isn’t it implemented more frequently? This paper combines results from two studies. In the first study by Education Northwest, we examined school improvement planning documents from all 17 Oregon schools receiving federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) that required expanding learning time. In the second study by the Center on Education Policy at The George Washington University, we conducted in-depth district and school-level interviews in 3 of the 17 schools. We found that expanded learning time was among the grant activities least likely to be fully implemented across the 17 Oregon SIG schools. The case studies revealed both barriers to implementing expanded learning time, as well as means of overcoming some of these barriers. Ultimately, however, case study participants saw expanded learning time as only one piece of the school improvement puzzle rather than an overarching strategy.