Using Collaboration and Data to Create Sustainable School Improvement


August 3, 2017


Photo of Jacqueline Raphael
Education Northwest's Jacqueline Raphael

The experience of Springdale Elementary School in eastern Washington proves that school improvement is a process for schools learning to improve—not something done to schools.

After three years of repeating 12-week change cycles that focused on overcoming a specific teaching challenge with technical assistance from Education Northwest, Springdale has realized significant student achievement gains in reading and mathematics through an approach called Success Now!

Education Northwest’s Jacqueline Raphael has been working with the Springdale leadership team since the beginning of the process.

“This small group of teacher leaders and their principal worked quite hard from the start,” she says. “They stayed focused on their students’ learning challenges, and their focus yielded success early on.”

“The team grew in its ability to identify aspects of teacher practice and other system conditions that needed to change in order for Springdale to make even more significant gains. This has helped the school get better at getting better.” –Jacqueline Raphael

Springdale’s engagement with Success Now! began in 2014, when the school’s leadership team (the principal and four teachers) set data-based improvement goals in reading comprehension. In 2014 and 2015, many grades made impressive, which encouraged the leadership team to increase its goals.

This past year, Springdale shifted its schoolwide improvement focus to mathematics, using strategies such as Number Talks that help students share their mathematical thinking and help teachers listen to and understand that thinking. The results have been encouraging; in 2017, most students exceeded one year’s growth in their district mathematics assessment both overall and for numbers and operations—the focus of the school improvement work.

“Due to the team’s leadership, Springdale teachers are now analyzing and taking action based on their individual students’ data in order to meet challenging goals,” Raphael says. “They are also keeping track of their own and their students’ progress in using best practices to support those goals.”

If you have more questions about Education Northwest's work with Springdale Elementary School, contact Jacqueline Raphael. Learn more about Success Now! and what this approach to school improvement can do for your school or district.