Pontiac School District and Oakland Schools (Regional Service Agency)

In 2016, the Michigan State Reform Office informed Oakland Schools (MI) that Pontiac High School was at risk for being closed due to chronic underperformance. They were told they had 45 days to provide “credible evidence that the school was on-track to meaningful improvement” in order to avoid closure. Oakland Schools (MI)’ Supervisor of Leadership and School Improvement contacted IRRE to provide intensive curricular, instructional and leadership support to Pontiac High School and to generate this credible evidence. Having worked previously with IRRE, she knew IRRE’s approach, even in a compressed time period, would be their best shot at producing a demonstrable change.

What are IRRE, Pontiac High School and Oakland Schools doing to produce these short-term results and build district and school capacity to bend the curve of student performance toward success?

IRRE’s Field Services team trained Instructional leaders and coaches and teachers to use our evidence-proven classroom visit protocol for three purposes:

  • to obtain baseline information on the quality of teaching and learning in all classrooms
  • to generate a common language around instructional improvement and
  • to provide grist for on-site and remote supports for coaching and instructional leadership

Data from the classroom protocol revealed severe deficits in Engagement and Rigor and the educators and IRRE team targeted student engagement and rigorous questioning as their immediate foci for professional development and instructional coaching. We and our partners use ongoing classroom visit assessments to track progress on these and other markers of instructional quality. Specific thresholds have been set: for what instructional practices will increase and decrease (e.g., greater use of collaborative learning engagement structures, less lecturing and low level questioning); for how students learning experiences will change (e.g. more opportunities and accountability for mastery) and for what collateral benefits of these instructional changes will accrue (e.g., decreases in disciplinary referrals). We work with instructional leaders to build mutual accountability between educators and these leaders to set these goals by consensus, to implement new learning (educators) and to recognize and support educators as they do so (instructional leaders).

These metrics will be used as the “credible evidence” needed that Pontiac High School is making meaningful and sustainable progress toward improving student outcomes.

As of June 2017, Oakland Schools, Pontiac Schools and IRRE will extend this partnership to include more elements of IRRE’s Curriculum and Instructional Benchmarking process beyond the initial critical period. 

Pontiac School District
(5500 student urban school district near Detroit)
Oakland Schools
(Regional Service Area serving XX school districts and XXXX students)

Short-term, relief from threat of state closure. Long-term, a) sustained improvement and b) strengthen capacity of Oakland Schools to support all districts to improve.

District In second year of partnership with IRRE. Oakland Schools (Regional Service Area) in first year of capacity building.