The Right Approach: Services Customized to Your School’s Needs
Every school has unique conditions and needs, and at McREL we prioritize context and collaboration when working with our school and district clients. We don’t deliver one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf, prescribed programs. Before proposing any solutions or services, we first focus on learning about you and your school community: your strengths and traditions, your values and goals, your culture, and your areas of concern. We then tailor our services to fit your specific needs, building contextualized solutions on a solid foundation of evidence-based best practices, forward-thinking concepts, an equity lens, and a systems approach to continuous improvement.
Expert School Consultants
McREL’s expert staff are former district leaders, principals, and teachers themselves. They have real-world experience leading successful improvement initiatives in schools and districts, and they have deep knowledge of the research- and evidence-based best practices that support school improvement. Our team has worked with hundreds of schools across the U.S. and around the world so we know how to plan and enact effective school improvement strategies in a variety of setting.
As your improvement partner, we’ll work side-by-side with you to plan and implement important changes, and monitor the results. We’ll also help your leaders and staff build their own professional skills and capacity to improve outcomes and sustain momentum over the long term.
“McREL has helped our staff to grow professionally and have a bigger impact on student learning.”
—Darrel Kohlman, superintendent, Kansas
McREL’s School Improvement Services include:
- Capacity building of in-district expertise
- Continuous improvement planning and implementation
- Curriculum analysis and alignment with standards and assessments
- Diagnostic review, needs assessment, program evaluation, and recommendations
- Educator development and coaching
- Leadership development and coaching
- Professional learning
- Turnaround and priority school improvement planning and implementation
“Our partnership with McREL has been extremely beneficial
and is a contributing factor toward the increase in our student achievement scores.”
—Rik Devney, principal, Nebraska
All of McREL’s school improvement services, trainings, coaching, and strategic advice are built on a solid foundation of our research-based and evidence-based frameworks for school improvement.
What to Improve: What Matters Most®
McREL’s meta-analysis of decades of research on effective schools and districts revealed five key areas that are most likely to have positive effects on student success.
These are high-leverage, high-payoff areas for school systems to invest in and consistently deliver on. While they may seem at first to be straightforward common sense, getting it right is challenging.
McREL helps educators gain the knowledge, skills, and procedures needed to create and sustain these important conditions through our professional learning, coaching, analysis, and technical assistance services.
- Challenging, engaging, and intentional instruction
- Curricular pathways to success
- Whole-child supports
- High-performance school cultures
- High-reliability district systems
How to Improve: Curiosity Works® Improvement Phases
McREL’s analysis of improvement science, professional learning and curiosity, and the principles of high-reliability organizations led to our development of a six-phase process for school improvement. We call this approach Curiosity Works, and it works for schools of all performance levels.
- Phase 1: Get Ready—Establish Shared Values, Moral Purpose, and Compelling Vision
- Phase 2: Create Hopeful Urgency and Chart a Course
- Phase 3: Focus on Teaching and Learning
- Phase 4: Support Professional Learning and Collaboration
- Phase 5: Embed Consistent, Deep Practices
- Phase 6: Build a Purposeful Community
McREL helps school leadership teams understand and move through each phase at their school, using our proven tools, strategies, and methods to support collaborative growth and collective efficacy.
School Improvement Resources
Curiosity Works: Moving Your School from Improvement to Innovation (2018)
What if every student were curious, self-motivated, and passionate about their learning? Wouldn’t our classrooms be more joyful and dynamic and our schools be more innovative? In this white paper, Kristin Rouleau lays the groundwork for a powerful new model for school improvement—an inside-out, curiosity-driven approach—that looks for and builds on schools’ bright spots in ways that go beyond improvement and help unleash both student and educator curiosity. This innovative approach relies on a school’s readiness to commit to shared values within a purposeful community, a focus on teaching and learning, support for professional growth among teachers using a triad peer coaching model, and a consistent, deep practice that weathers the storms of change.
Curiosity Works: A Guidebook for Moving Your School from Improvement to Innovation
Take charge of your school’s learning environment and culture and push past performance plateaus by rekindling the power of curiosity across your school. Curiosity Works guides school leadership teams through a six-phase journey toward powerful, continuous improvement and innovation, with 17 tools you can use to reflect on where you are as a school and where you want to go, and implement the action steps needed to get there. Curiosity Works incorporates key elements of McREL’s What Matters Most framework and Balanced Leadership program that tens of thousands of teachers and leaders globally are already using to gain actionable insight into their profession, and layers on improvement pathways and phases of development to guide you and your team.
Simply Better: Doing What Matters Most to Change the Odds for Student Success
We all want—and strive for—student success. But increasing student success isn’t as much about doing more or working harder as it is about doing the right things—especially when resources available are limited. Bryan Goodwin presents research findings and real-life examples to show how “less is more” in education reform. Understand why five specific principles—instruction, curriculum, student support, high-performance school cultures, and data-driven districts—are key to helping all students succeed. Learn how strategic “touchstones” can challenge and nurture students, standardize yet personalize curriculum, counteract negative out-of-school factors, and reduce variance in teacher quality.