Frequently Asked Questions
We established a five-year plan, that is broken down yearly, to align with our district’s strategic plan and measure the three overarching goals for Achievement Schools:
- There will be a dramatic increase in the number of students performing at or above grade level in reading and mathematics within three years of implementation.
- Every school will achieve sustained success (three years of a “C” grade or higher) and be considered a “model school” in Hillsborough County Public Schools.
- The number of Achievement Schools will decrease from 50 to 0 by 2025.
A school that meets the following criteria receives added support as an Achievement School. Each school is placed in Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 (most intensive) based on data.
Basic factors for consideration are:
- Rule 6A-1.099811, F.A.C. defined Differentiated Accountability (DA) Schools
- First school grade of a “D” or an “F” after a grade of a “C”
- First year of a “C” grade or better, improved from a “D” or an “F”
- High School with three consecutive grades of a “C” or lower, FRL greater than 75% and a graduation rate below 85%
Tier 3: Differentiated Accountability Year 2 Schools
Tier 2: Differentiated Accountability Year 1 Schools
Tier 1: Differentiated Accountability Targeted: First school grade of a “D” after a grade of a “C”
- First year of a “C” grade or better, improved from a “D” or an “F”
- High School with three consecutive grades of a “C” or lower, FRL greater than 75% and a graduation rate below 85%
The Achievement Schools support stays in place for a school until it earns a “C” grade or better for three straight years.
Every school and every student deserves to be set up for success. Here’s how we are making that happen:
– Equity – it's about giving students what they need. We have steered support to the right schools and listen to people in the community to shape our work and raise expectations. Every student who walks through our doors deserves nothing less than a high quality education and it is our job to ensure this happens. Through equitable practices, we can and will provide equal opportunities for all students.
– Collective Prosperity: when students achieve, our community succeeds.
– Fairness across places: where you start doesn’t dictate where you finish.
– School leaders requested and now have a single point of contact in our district when requesting support or services to expedite solutions to challenges.
– School leaders requested and now receive clarity and alignment around the expectations and way of work to be implemented in the school. All communications and decision-making regarding Achievement Schools is funneled through one office to expedite supports and interventions needed for high-needs schools.
– We were awarded a federal grant that allowed us to re-establish the position of Director of School Improvement. Jackie Haynes has moved into this role to coordinate and focus efforts in support of our Achievement Schools. In addition, she coordinates our turnaround efforts with the Florida Department of Education.
– Achievement Schools bring focused alignment to expectations related to Instructional Practice, Talent Management, School Culture and Community Engagement and Leadership.
– Achievement Schools have been selected based on performance data. There are three tiers based on State Designations for Differentiated Accountability and school improvement. Tier 3 receives the most intensive supports. Schools have to show continuous improvement and the ability to sustain student achievement to be removed from the cohort. Support will stay in place for an Achievement School until it earns a “C” grade or better for three straight years.
We have ongoing measures to assess Achievement Schools’ success regularly. Our district has outlined quantitative and qualitative measures that are assessed monthly and quarterly. Summative data provides end-of-the-year results.
We could not wait another minute to ensure our students are getting exactly what they need to be successful. We have shifted how our district supports our high-needs schools. It is a natural next step to create equal opportunities for students.
We know what it takes to improve achievement, and we’re implementing it with fidelity and equity. Our district is making bold decisions with school leaders and teachers and ensuring the right people are put in the right places.
We have meticulously crafted the process for Achievement Schools. Our Achievement Schools Leadership Team is meeting frequently. We continue to gather input from community partners and from these committees: Achievement Schools Advisory Team (broad group of stakeholders), Achievement Schools Core Team, Teacher Advisory Team, Student Advisory Team, Parent Advisory Team. We will also be holding community chats to hear feedback from the public.
The structure for Achievement Schools and five geographical areas:
– Focuses resources and supports in an equitable way
– Realigns area superintendents and other supports
For more information on our district’s Area Structure: https://sway.com/QurY3mao8kzJQkpo.
Every student who walks through our doors deserves nothing less than a high-quality education and it is our job to ensure this happens. Through equitable practices, we can and will achieve student success.
These are just a few examples of what makes Achievement Schools different than anything our district has ever done:
Then and now: Our district was using an area model with 8 area superintendents. Each area superintendent created their own individual strategy resulting in diluted district support. Under the Achievement Schools model, there is a centralized support system and focused strategy to provide more resources to our highest needs schools.
Then and now: We had a deeper conversation about equity and our School Board implemented an Equity Policy. With past processes – like STAR and Focus – schools were identified as needing help, but our district’s structure and way of work weren’t cohesively organized to make those schools a priority. With Elevate, district systems weren’t in place to achieve equity. Under the area model for two years, our district utilized a team approach to better provide support to schools. Progress was made. In order to get more dramatic increases in achievement, our district pulled together the highest-needs schools and aligned resources to accelerate achievement through a core district strategy. Achievement Schools are given an increased level of support and increased responsiveness to schools’ needs. Our district’s laser-focus on equity and training began in 2017 at the Leadership Institute with four structures that lead to equity: human conditions, structural conditions, learning conditions, and conditions for hope and realized dreams. Our Board’s Equity Policy is the driving force behind the work to implement these procedures.
Then and now: In the past, the district has had general recruitment fairs and sent mass emails to recruit staff to work at high-needs schools. Now, our district holds targeted recruitment fairs and specifically reaches out to highly-effective teachers with proven success. Achievement Schools are at the “front of the line” for support, resources and staff, so our district can truly achieve equity in our practices. Open positions at Achievement Schools are filled first with new, experienced, highly effective teachers who can best serve students and understand what it takes to succeed at a turnaround school. We’ve had teachers and administrators graduate from our district’s Turnaround Leadership Pathways. Our district will continue to offer incentives to teachers and administrators working at high-needs schools including the Spark program where teachers can earn up to $13,000 per year of extra pay on top of their salaries: $7,500 yearly for Tier 3 schools, $5,000 yearly for Tier 2 schools and $3,600 yearly for Tier 1 schools. In addition, these teachers are also offered $4,500 for National Board Certification, and $1,000 for teachers through the ASPIRE program or as a National Board Certified Teacher mentor. Achievement Schools teachers receive free or discounted child care (HOST is available in most, but not all, elementary and middle schools.): Free for teachers in Tier 3 schools and 50% off for Tiers 1 & 2. They are also provided with extra training and additional opportunities made available to staff at Achievement Schools. Another incentive for staff is working with amazing students – teaching, leading and helping them succeed. In addition, the schools receive resources in line with the needs of students.
Then and now: Unit assignments used to be largely formula-driven. Now, unit assignments are based on need. Achievement Schools receive additional support personnel, including psychologists, social workers, academic coaches and resource staff.
We continue to assess the systems and procedures to improve support to our schools. More examples will show themselves as our district further breaks down barriers.
Support for Achievement Schools will stay in place for a school until it earns a “C” grade or better for three straight years, and for high schools, the graduation rate exceeds 85 percent. After three years, the school’s support will be sustained through the area superintendent and it will no longer receive the same level of intense district-level support.
The likelihood of sustained success increases when a culture of excellence has been established and maintained for three years and turnover and discipline issues have been addressed. Shifting the culture of the school will help to retain teachers, while a consistent staff and structure will help continue the school’s success.
Schools will still have access to Title I funds for additional resources.
The Achievement Schools model is not grant funded, however $9 million in existing grants support professional development for Achievement Schools’ teachers and leaders, specialized programs, curriculum materials and resources:
*$7 million federal grant – Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program
*$1 million – Title IV Grant
*$500,000 – Department of Education District Instructional Leadership Grant
*$500,000 – Title II Grant
The Achievement Schools model redirects current resources and supports to schools that need them the most. It is the implementation of equitable practices.
Achievement Schools are not a one-size-fits-all, top-down model as we focus on equity. Support is based on schools’ individual needs. We are committed to the elimination of systemic disparities by implementing systems and practices that strengthen and support equitable practices.
Achievement Schools and area schools are supported by key area-level staff: an area superintendent, area coach/deputy, ESE supervisor, ESE district resource teachers, ESE staffing coordinator, ESE staffing specialists and professional development specialists. Our district eliminated one area/area superintendent and directed additional resources to Achievement Schools. Achievement Schools staff members each support a smaller group of schools (6-13 schools) that they’re able to visit more frequently. Our Achievement Schools staff provides principals and leadership teams with supportive, side-by-side coaching.
Every school currently has a school improvement plan, instructional priorities and goals and ways of work. Area superintendents and our district determine what each school needs through a formal assessment process.
Our needs assessments include formative data that our district collects regularly, which is quantitative in nature. We also gather qualitative data through our SKIP and TELL surveys.
Area superintendents collect data through regular observations and conversations with principals. Data is also gathered during learning walks, walk-throughs and teacher observations. Data is continuously being shared with the Achievement Schools Leadership Team to ensure a complete understanding of each school’s individual needs.
We used data to assign the right resources to each of our Achievement Schools. Our extensive needs assessment process allows our district to better serve the needs of our schools.
For additional information on managing funding, see the answer to the above question, “What is the cost impact?”
These videos support our area superintendents’ way of work and show why we already have so much individualized data from each school:
Instructional Learning Walks:
Principals’ Small Group Professional Learning:
Our superintendent and his staff are directly being held accountable for the success of our Achievement Schools. This is a district strategy that is dependent upon every divisional leader and their teams. Everyone who has a role in providing support to our Achievement Schools will be held accountable for the success of students and our schools.
A major component of professional development in our Achievement Schools is designed around teachers and staff knowing their students. “Knowing your students” is the first criteria for understanding equity. In our Achievement Schools, “knowing your students” and planning for students’ needs is non-negotiable.
Our Achievement Schools will be staffed by experienced and highly effective leaders. The leaders selected for Achievement Schools must demonstrate Turnaround Leader competencies. Turnaround Leadership Pathways (TLP) is our district’s strategy to ensure we have the right leaders in our highest-needs schools. TLP is centered on the belief that leadership is the key component for change in schools, because great leaders build strong school culture and attract and retain talented teachers, who in turn, significantly improve student achievement.
We are instituting specific strategies for targeted teacher recruitment. Through collaborative efforts, Human Resources and the teachers’ union are in support of our quest to staff our Achievement Schools with experienced, highly effective teachers. Our district has implemented a support structure that prioritizes the needs of our Achievement Schools for human capital management, operations, facilities and instructional decisions.
Our district provides ongoing training to ensure the top talent at our Achievement Schools remains at the top of its game.
We have designated more than $1 million for teacher professional development and have designed plans for summer and back-to-school training sessions with staff. Our district has allocated four professional development specialists to Achievement Schools. This ensures teachers get what they need and are successful as we work to eliminate barriers.
We will continue to review needs assessments with principals. There are training sessions that are available to all teachers. Trainings are also provided at school sites based on the school’s professional development plan.
Training is focused on teacher leadership, equity, culture and instruction. Teacher leaders are equipped with the skill set to coach teachers around standards-based instruction and equity. The goal of job-embedded professional learning with these schools is to build teacher capacity and expertise. The coaching system across content areas builds coherence across professional learning experiences.
Our district incentivizes teachers using various programs. Teachers can earn up to $13,000 per year of extra pay on top of their salaries: $7,500 yearly for Tier 3 schools, $5,000 yearly for Tier 2 schools and $3,600 yearly for Tier 1 schools. In addition, these teachers are also offered $4,500 for National Board Certification, and $1,000 for teachers through the ASPIRE program or as a National Board Certified Teacher mentor. Achievement Schools teachers receive free or discounted child care (HOST is available in most, but not all, elementary and middle schools): Free for teachers in Tier 3 schools and 50% off for Tiers 1 & 2. They are also provided with extra training and additional opportunities made available to staff at Achievement Schools. Another incentive for staff is working with amazing students – teaching, leading and helping them succeed.
*HOST is available in most, but not all, elementary and middle schools.
Each school has established community partnerships. Partnerships align with a school’s current work. As a district, we continue to form new partnerships to fill gaps and enhance support for our Achievement Schools.
Our district has gathered feedback from parents, teachers, principals, district and union leaders and community partners through advisory teams. Community chats will take place to gather feedback for our Achievement Schools team, so we can make changes or enhancements as we move forward. We’ve formed a subcommittee within the stakeholder group to provide guidance for the most effective community engagement strategies.
Leaders of Achievement Schools believe that diversity makes us smarter. Our advisory teams are comprised of students and adults with diverse backgrounds, diverse educational experiences and diverse life experiences to give us well-rounded input.
Our School Board is also a part of community involvement. There is school board representation on the Achievement Schools stakeholder advisory team. The Achievement Schools Leadership Team holds quarterly meetings with each board member to provide updates and seek input.
We use qualitative measures to gauge the effectiveness of partnerships and do quarterly assessments. Schools provide feedback about the impact of the partnership(s). We also get input directly from our community partners to assess the response and review how many people are utilizing a service.
Community engagement builds strong relationships and is part of our district’s strategic plan: by addressing the root causes, our district will offer adaptive solutions to raise academic achievement and provide opportunities for all students.
Academic support and federal programs personnel who oversee these programs in our schools have been key in designing and delivering all support services that are needed. The team members are strong partners in this work. They train student services staff to help meet the needs of students in our Achievement Schools. They also meet with school leadership to ensure appropriate social, emotional, mental, and physical supports are in place.
An Achievement Schools-style structure has been effective in other school districts like Miami-Dade, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Fulton County Public Schools, Dallas Independent School District, Washington D.C., Chicago Public Schools and Fort Worth Independent Public Schools.
We’re learning from other districts where this model has worked and incorporating some of those practices.
Miami-Dade Public Schools began overseeing 108 of Miami-Dade’s most fragile schools in 2013-2014. By aligning their supports to ensure sustainable practices, the schools have experienced significant rates of improvement while gradually requiring less support from the district. In the last two years they went from 16 “F” schools to zero. In the same two-year period they reduced the number of “D” schools from 29 to 14. Nine of those 14 schools were one point away from a “C.”
We have partnered with staff from the University of Virginia Turnaround Program and have studied their model extensively. In addition, we have studied the information regarding school turnaround best practices from The Center on School Turnaround from WestEd. We have also partnered with Alma Advisory consulting group (some of their team was part of the turnaround work in Washington D.C. and Fulton County) to work with us on our district strategy, in addition to Ann Clark, former Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools who led similar work in her district.
Yes. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 is built around equity and leadership with turnaround components. It includes protections for vulnerable students and creates leverage for parents, communities and advocates to advance education equity. It aims to provide resources to support teachers and leaders, and requires states and districts report on and address inequities in the rates at which low-income students and students of color are assigned to ineffective, out-of-field or inexperienced teachers. It also calls for the continued targeting of federal funding to the highest poverty schools and districts. These represent key building blocks for an equity-focused school system – one that sets high expectations for all students, provides resources necessary for meeting those expectations, measures and reports progress toward them, and ensures action when any school gets off track.
There have been visible improvements that have taken place at our high-needs schools. In several schools, principals have only been in their schools for two years. It’s proven that the turnaround process takes three to five years. This plan will work to accelerate student achievement at faster rates and reduce the number of Achievement Schools from 50 to 0 by 2025. We’re breaking down systemic barriers that currently exist and strengthening how the schools are supported with the Achievement Schools model.
We continue to build excitement around what it means to be a part of Achievement Schools, and everyone plays a role in this. The designation is positive. It denotes that schools will be achieving at the highest levels. These schools receive additional resources, supports and trouble-shooting methods around the barriers that have prevented them from succeeding. We are confident that serving in and attending an Achievement School is a place staff and students want to be.
Some parts of society have created a stigma around low-performing schools. Achievement Schools show that even though there are high levels of poverty concentrated in a school, students are capable of performing at high levels of achievement. We’ll prove it. We have created a culture that demonstrates it’s an honor and opportunity to be a part of Achievement Schools.