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The science of the sudden school turnaround

New innovations developed by ed-tech company School Improvement Network make it possible to elevate student assessment scores by as much as 20 percent in a single year.

New research helps to unveil the science of the school turnaround, revealing that improving schools dramatically isn’t about working miracles—it’s about having the right tools and the right focus.

Administrators today carry higher expectations on their shoulders than any generation before. With so much at stake, many school leaders question how they can possibly accomplish what’s being asked—to not only raise student achievement, but in some cases to double, triple, or quadruple student success rates.

However, research conducted by Dr. Steven Shaha of the Center for Public Policy and Administration shows that new innovations developed by ed-tech company School Improvement Network make it possible to elevate student assessment scores by as much as 20 percent in a single year. The numbers tell a story of dramatic, lasting improvement in student achievement being made every day, all over the country.

Dr. Shaha’s research is compiled in a study called “Predictors of Success,” where student outcomes in 734 schools in 211 districts across 39 states were analyzed year over year to measure the impact of School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system on student learning and educator effectiveness.

The results show that whenever educators used the tools effectively in the educator effectiveness system, student test scores increased many times over, year after year.

(Next page: What the research says)

Improved Student Performance: Reading           

Research shows that all schools using School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system improved reading assessment scores significantly, with higher frequency users raising assessment scores by 18 percent, or at nearly four times the rate of improvement compared to their districts.

Improved Student Performance: Math

As in reading, all schools using the tools in School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system achieved improved math scores, with higher frequency users improving by 18.9 percent —over 30 times the rate of improvement compared to their own districts.

Fewer Dropouts; More Students College Bound

Dropout rates decreased by 20 percent in schools that frequently used the tools in School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system.

What’s more, the number of students who said they planned on attending college increased by 9.6 percent in schools with a higher frequency of use.

An Example of Success: Wilson County Gains Insight into Theory and Practice

The Wilson County School System is located in Lebanon, Tenn., and serves approximately 15,000 students at 21 sites.

Wilson County strives to obtain the best teachers and administrators possible, knowing this will directly affect the success of their students. Of the 991 people employed in positions that require state certification, approximately 48 percent have attained an educational degree at the master’s level or higher. The district also has lowered student-teacher ratios, increased the number of teaching assistants and counselors, and added school nurses as a way of providing better service to students.

Monty Wilson, supervisor of curriculum and instruction at Wilson County Schools, was introduced to PD 360 ( at the end of the school year and decided to use the summer downtime to test the free trial offer. It proved to be everything the district wanted in a professional development management system and more.

PD 360, one of the tools in School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system, is an on-demand library of professional teacher development resources that leverages technology to make professional development more effective, convenient, and sustainable.

With more than 200 hours of research-based video content, plus tools for follow-up, tracking, reflection, and group training, PD 360 is used by more than 700,000 educators across North America to access individualized support on the most relevant topics, like differentiated instruction, minority student achievement, English language learners, classroom instruction that works, leadership, assessment, and more.

PD 360’s content is divided into hundreds of indexed and searchable segments that make it easy for teachers, administrators, aspiring leaders, coaches, mentors, paraprofessionals, and professional learning communities to find the answers they need. New content is continually added to keep educators up to date.

Wilson County decided to introduce PD 360 in midyear by training the administrators and a few selected teachers. These teachers then went back to their groups and trained the others. Here are some of the ways the district implements PD 360:

• Classroom walk-throughs.
When principals do classroom walk-throughs, they eMail specific PD 360 segment links to individual teachers that are relevant to particular instructional needs.

• Group training.
Teacher education is often personalized for certain groups, such as when Wilson County high schools chose to customize their PD 360 instruction to the objectives of differentiation and assessment.

• Faculty meetings.
Wilson County uses PD 360 in its faculty meetings by watching a segment either before or during the gathering, then breaking into groups and using the Facilitator Guide materials to lead discussions and activities.

• Teachers who are struggling.
Teachers experiencing difficulties are helped when principals or PD coordinators eMail specific segment links showing what best practices look like in needed areas. The teachers’ viewing and reflecting can be chronicled in their Professional Growth Plans.

• Teacher growth plans.
Teacher PD 360 usage is tracked in Professional Growth Plans as a way to follow specialized goals and teacher development.

Wilson County School System has experienced many benefits while implementing PD 360 and looks forward to many more. For instance, PD 360 gives individualized teacher training that enables each teacher to search for answers to concerns immediately, while still providing a unified focus for the whole system.

Because PD 360 is an online and on-demand solution, Wilson County teachers can access it anytime and anywhere they have the internet. Teacher professional development is now flexible to individual schedules, rather than being limited to the school calendar.

A variety of real classrooms from across the country are shown in every PD 360 program, so that teachers can see how to implement best practices in their own classroom teaching. These best practices are always research-based and classroom-proven, dealing with nearly every education initiative of the past two decades.

Wilson County teachers follow their own growth curve by using the tracking tools and reflection questions at the end of each segment, while administrators use PD 360’s integrated tracking, reporting, and follow-up to ensure that teacher professional development happens consistently.

“Many of our teachers are saying that this is the best professional development they have ever experienced,” Wilson says. “In just six months, we have had great teacher buy-in, with 70 percent usage and approximately 128,000 minutes viewed. Our goal is to attain 100 percent usage within the first month of the next school year.”

For more information about School Improvement Network’s educator effectiveness system, including PD 360, call (855) 808-5868 or visit

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