Making instruction come alive
Dear Friends:

While results from schools under the School Improvement Grant program have been mixed nationally, schools implementing CTAC's Standard Bearer Schools process continue to far exceed the norm.

The latest early indication of success? Schuyler Middle School in Colfax County is now designated a "Great" school by the state of Nebraska. The reason? Standard Bearer Schools examine the root causes of issues and develop strategies to address them--sticking with a laser-like focus on key areas likely to make a dramatic difference in student learning.

While many schools attempting to rapidly turn around know that changing long-standing practices of adults is key to seeing real results, few have figured out how to make that change happen. Not so in Schuyler, where a focus on making instructional strategies engaging, making content relevant, and emphasizing meaningful student-teacher relationships is paying off.

Following a broad-based survey of parents and staff, the school's leadership identified key priorities, and over just a few months took action to:
  • Match every child to a mentor to last the duration of middle school
  • Implement four new instructional strategies--helping students to probe and think deeply about rich content
  • Re-work the curriculum--opening critical conversations among staff about what to teach and when
In many schools, technology integration is the goal. At Schuyler, improving teaching and learning is the goal, and putting an iPad in the hands of every student was one small step in service of major changes in instructional practice. The staff collaboratively defined the quality of the instructional change they wished to see, and are using many tools in concert to move an entire level forward on an instructional instrument that measures quality teaching practice. They never lose focus on their analysis that improving instruction is the key to addressing the root cause of the school's prior results.

These changes are producing a visibly more engaging campus for students, and a shared appetite for the hard work which lies ahead. The recent recognition of the school as "Great" under the new Nebraska accountability system is an important indicator of this progress. For more information about how to become a Standard Bearer School, contact CTAC at (617) 423-1444 or
Best Regards,
William J. Slotnik
Founder and Executive Director
Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC)
MARCH 2016