SAP Days


By Babatunde Ilori, Executive Director of Accountability and Communications

Three days out of the school year, it is not the students walking to class. Instead, over 200 Madera Unified administrators, curriculum & instruction coaches, lead teachers, counselors, and other support staff walk the halls to get to their assigned classroom to discuss improving student achievement as they collaborate in Strategic Academic Planning (SAP). During SAP days, there is intense focus on evaluating a school site’s Strategic Academic Plan to find areas of growth and discuss areas of need by reviewing school site data with their respective teams. SAP days exemplify Madera Unified’s commitment to being a learning organization, believing in continuous improvement and having a growth mindset. Part of the Superintendent’s Executive Cabinet’s core values include having a Collaborative Culture. Strategic Academic Planning involves having a clear understanding of the current situation with data and strategically planning your next move so that you have more control over student outcomes. The implementation of SAP days have been a key lever allowing Madera Unified staff the time to collaborate and plan with their respective teams. During the SAP days, teams develop problem statements and determine the root cause for the specific problem they decide to focus on. SAP teams create fishbone diagrams or utilize the “5 Whys” protocol to get to the heart of the problem. Once the SAP team completes the activity, they create a Theory of Action (TOA) on how they plan to meet each of their school site goals. The TOA utilizes an “if” and “then” statement to articulate the strategy which each SAP team plans to use to meet its goals. Sheryl Sisil, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, presented the district professional development TOA to all attendees during the SAP day. If District Administrators focus their leadership on: developing a capacity for instructional leadership promoting a teaching and learning agenda create conditions that support and encourage leading develop practices that are data supported and evidence based developing equitable practices

and ~ if

Site Administration focus their leadership on: understanding instruction well and supporting professional development opportunities for their teachers advocating for a learning agenda and high expectations creating and implementing conditions that encourage learning implementing a system that informs them of current student learning and progress and responding in a timely manner fostering a belief that all students are capable of high levels of learning

and ~ if

Teachers focus on: demonstrating the knowledge and instructional skills needed to meet the needs of all students setting high expectations for all students and providing them with access and opportunities to achieve at high levels collaborating with colleagues on curriculum, instruction, and assessment in meaningful ways being able to assess and respond to the individual needs of all students creating a culture of inclusivity and accountability using equitable practices


Students will graduate with the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options ensuring all students will be college and career ready.” As described above in the TOA, a major focus of Madera Unified is to make significant improvements to student achievement by providing staff, site leaders, and teachers the tools to ensure high quality instruction is happening across the district. Therefore, the professional development focus will be geared toward building capacity in staff to implement the district TOA. SAP days have been a great initiative for the district. One hundred percent of staff who attended the SAP day and completed the survey responded favorable to the following question, “Please rate your overall satisfaction with the Strategic Academic Planning Day.” Below are samples of written survey feedback from staff regarding the SAP day. “Time with my site team to think about how to improve our school.” “Really liked hearing about the vision of the district and the strong emphasis on expectations. Also enjoyed developing the action plan with my team” “Thinking in terms of “Theory of Action” was wonderful for a teacher of geometry. We call it conditional statements.” “District presentations were enlightening and provided focus and structure for our work, as well as a road map for the future.” “Meeting with our team to discuss the strategies and tactics we will implement during the 2018-2019 school year to better meet the needs of our students.”

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