District and School Improvement

Experience shows that one-size-fits-all approaches do not work when your charge is to improve education outcomes for your school, your district, or your state. We work with you to assess local strengths and challenges, identify appropriate tools, and enact the right strategies to address the gap between where the system is and where it needs to be in terms of capacity, professional culture, and student achievement.

What we offer

Drawing on our own research and practice over 20 years and on a deep reservoir of theoretical and practical research, we provide instructional and leadership development for department, campus, and district leaders, integrated with classroom teacher development. Our support services are aligned to standards and can be implemented with fidelity, scaled to reach every student in every class, and sustained over time to improve student learning.

We strongly believe that strategies for effective systems improvement must align curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices to standards and include coherent, connected supports for leaders and teachers. Our work together must be focused directly on rigorous standards and measurable outcomes.

We offer integrated professional development and onsite technical support sessions in different strands to address the particular goals you seek to achieve:

  • Leader strand—for representatives from throughout the system, including central office administrators, campus administrators, and key teacher–leaders
  • Instructional leader strand—for key teacher–leaders, including instructional coaches
  • Teacher strand—for teacher teams made up of representatives from a given K–12 core content area

The strategies, processes, and tools presented in these sessions will be accompanied by written protocols that increase the likelihood of consistent outcomes and promote the transferability of ideas. Our deliberate use of protocols also means that after our work in the district, the knowledge of the “how-tos” resides in the protocol documents that stay with the district.


Our systemic approach supports student learning as well as student success on high-stakes assessments through an emphasis on a guaranteed and viable curriculum, which is grounded in state and national education standards.

Research[*] concludes that implementation of a guaranteed and viable curriculum plays a critical role in improving student achievement. Guaranteed means that every child in every school receives essential instruction every day; viable means that the curriculum can be taught in the amount of time provided.

This guaranteed and viable curriculum is developed through careful study of—and alignment to—the standards. This process of starting from the standards to identify essential student learning is referred to as backloading. This process ensures that what is being taught in the classroom is aligned to the standards that reflect both what students need to know and be able to do for the purposes of assessments and for future academic and professional success.


[*]See, for example, Chapter 3, A Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, pages 22–34 in Robert J. Marzano’s What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2003.