The Winston-Salem Forsyth County School System (WSFCS) completed a comprehensive needs assessment during the 2008-2009 school years to determine best practices to increase student achievement in all subgroups as defined by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (Department of Education [DOE], 2002, p. 35). The comprehensive needs assessment findings concluded that the school district lacked a formal model of district-wide collaboration to address shared norms, beliefs, values, goals, behavior, and academics (LEA Plan, 2008, p. 5). The school district is in the second year of implementing Professional Learning Communities (PLC) in each of the eighty-one schools. Twenty-six schools were designated to implement Single School Culture, thirteen high schools implemented Keep Learning on Track, and the remaining schools in the district designed a model of collaboration based on DuFour’s model of professional learning communities.
Single School Culture results in the consistency of adult and student practices related to behavior, academic achievement, and climate. The processes are designed to develop the knowledge and skills of adults and student simultaneously. Behavior is a uniformed set of practices and procedures that are aligned to a school’s mission and goals. These practices and procedures are known and used by all staff to positively norm both student and adult actions. The goal of applying the Single School Culture for behavior process is to empower the staff to uniformly address behavior issues that in turn creates an ethos of fairness on a campus.
Single School Culture for Academics is a research-based process that utilizes the most effective practices from the Efficacy Initiative, Standards in Practice from Education Trust, and Assessment Literacy. Teachers receive training and participate in regularly scheduled Learning Team Meetings that include the following procedures:
• Articulation of academic targets – unpacking of standards
• Development of a data stream
• Analysis of student data (strengths and weaknesses) and student work (rigor and relevance)
• Alignment of curriculum/instruction/assessment to standards
• Sharing strategies for corrective instruction (West Palm Beach, n.d., p. 1).
Student involvement in the academic processes is key to student learning. Students learn to articulate the academic targets, analyze their own data, derive feedback and develop their plan for learning. Students also become partners in the assessment process and learn to lead conferences regarding their academic achievement.
Climate refers to the emotional atmosphere we generate around us, the “context” of school. Climate involves the perception of stakeholders concerning the fairness, openness, friendliness, ethos of caring, and sense of welcome of the school. It also refers to the degree of satisfaction experienced within its organizational structure.
In this process, schools identify the problematic practices and their impact on...