Strong schools are relentless in their attention to the learning needs of all students. To ensure continuous and sustainable improvement, schools need to develop internal capacity to innovate and respond to student needs. New Visions is committed to working with teams of school leaders and teachers to strengthen the skills, knowledge and strategies needed to ensure that every student learns.
One key approach to school improvement was developed through the Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model (SAM), a leadership certification program created by New Visions in partnership with Baruch College that utilizes the inquiry process. Drawing from the strategies developed in SAM, all New Visions schools have now adopted inquiry teams-- groups of teachers who regularly meet to understand and improve supports for struggling students.
Inquiry teams engage in a cycle of problem identification, intervention and assessment. New Visions staff members support school teams in investigating three fundamental questions:
- Which students are drifting off track?
- What are the barriers to success?
- How can struggling students be brought back on track and up to speed?
First the team identifies students who are struggling and focuses on a key issue -- be it underdeveloped skills, a learning gap or a lacking social support -- that holds them back. The team then researches, designs and implements an intervention strategy aimed at improving learning outcomes for the struggling students. Throughout the process, the team uses academic theories of best practice and current student data to assess and adjust its work.
By emphasizing improved outcomes for the lowest-performing students, teams uncover gaps in supports that affect students across the school. In bridging these gaps, the teams work to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed. In addition, the inquiry team approach builds staff capacity to use student data and lead school improvement efforts. Schools collaborate to identify emerging challenges and implement solutions, establishing a dedicated process for ensuring continuous whole-school improvement.