By Babatunde Ilori, Executive Director of Accountability and Communications

Babatunde Ilori headshotOUR DISTRICT HAS partnered with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) since May of 2018. NISL has provided our school and district leaders with the skills, research, and tools needed to design and lead high-performance education systems. NISL’s Executive Development Program or EDP emphasizes the role of principals as strategic thinkers and instructional leaders. Leaders who complete the EDP program will have acquired the knowledge, skills, and tools to design their schools as systems with a focus on designing a high-performing school organization that is rooted in professional learning. Madera Unified is grateful to the Board’s commitment to implementing the NISL EDP program. Over the course of the last school year, 50 leaders have completed the program and another 50 are currently going through EDP this school year. Learnings from the NISL EDP program have already been incorporated by a number of leaders into the Strategic Academic Planning process implemented in our district. Additionally, our district is completing the NISL District System Design Partnership (DSDP), which is a year-long process to develop a high-performance organization that can be scaled, and will sustain improvements in instruction and student learning. Our partnership is made up of over 30 participants. It includes board members, district leaders, union leaders, community leaders, and parent leaders. We have already had a total of 8 NISL DSDP full day meetings covering the following four topics:
  • The Nine Building Blocks
  • Students who Graduate College and Career Ready
  • High-Quality Aligned Instructional Systems
  • High Performance Organization in Support of High-Quality Teaching
The newly adopted Madera Unified Community Compact, Student Champion and the Graduate Profile documents were reviewed and discussed during meetings as well. Each of the documents communicate a set of high expectations for students, staff, parents and our Madera Unified community to bring our mission to life, “…to creating and sustaining a culture enabling Madera Unified students to experience an unparalleled educational journey that is intellectually, socially and personally transformative”. The foundation of NISL’s framework is on the 9 Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System. The 9 Building Blocks are a combination of more than 25 years of research conducted on the world’s best education systems by the National Center on Education and the Economy. Through the DSDP process, our district is focused on improving our work around building blocks 1,2 5 & 6. Building Block 1 provides strong supports for children and their families before students arrive at school. Research states how important it is for young children to come to school healthy and eager to learn. This will take help from our community partners to further assist in providing support for prenatal care, child nutrition and high-quality childcare and preschool options for our families. Building Block 2 provides more resources for at-risk students than for others. One of our core values is equity before equality, and we work hard every day to ensure this happens. Research consistently shows that at-risk students require additional high-quality resources and supports to achieve at high levels. Building Block 5 assures an abundant supply of highly qualified teachers. If we are to ensure that students graduate with the greatest number of postsecondary options from the widest array of choices, we need to continue to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. You will notice that building block 5 is tightly aligned with building block 6. Building Block 6 is to redesign schools to be places in which teachers will be treated as professionals, with incentives and support to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students. Research states that high-quality educational systems have career ladders that develop the skills of the current teacher workforce and establish a culture and organization that provides strong incentives for teachers to get better and better at work. Furthermore, high quality educational systems support continuous improvement of all schools as a whole. The next four full day NISL DSDP meeting sessions will focus on the following issues:
  • Relevant local contextual analyses, linked to the district’s vision
  • Theory of action that links the district’s context to its vision
  • Development of effective strategies
Production of a plan for the implementation of the district’s redesign as a system, including communications plans and plans for engaging all the relevant district stakeholders. The work we are doing within NISL DSDP will inform our Budget and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The LCAP is a three-year strategic plan, required by the state of California, which communicates how our budget will be spent to meet our district goals and State of California priorities. Our goal will be to have the 2020-21 LCAP incorporate the main strategies developed through our NISL DSDP work. We look forward to continuing our DSDP partnership and working collaboratively with our community to further improve our district.

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