I am frequently asked for a simple checklist of required items that should be included in the District Improvement Plan (DIP). There are many checklists available, and it is a difficult task for several reasons. One being there are so many new requirements, procedures, programs, laws, and documents to sift through. Another challenge is the constantly changing and overlapping program requirements.
I am also often asked to review plans, and/or provide examples of a good plan. I have reviewed hundreds of plans and quite honestly, in my opinion, the majority of them are not that great.
I will offer two suggestions to attempt to simplify the process that will actually enable the LEA to use their DIP as a tool to drive actions rather than reducing its purpose to being only a compliance document.
Here is my disclaimer:
There is no one right or wrong way to complete your District Improvement Plan.
With that said, here goes!
Suggestion One: Use an APPENDIX
The list of requirements is quite long, and if every item is put into the DIP, the document becomes lengthy, overwhelming, and confusing! For this post (Part I) I have created an Appendix that includes requirements that are already part of other Program Plan documents (such as the G/T Plan, Dyslexia Plan, Technology Plan, RTI Plan, etc.) My aim here is to be able to create a DIP that is not 125+ pages long!
The only catch is the documents referenced must exist and stay updated. I believe it would be more doable to assign various staff persons who are already overseeing specific programs to the responsibility of updating and maintaining these documents. Of course, they would also need to be systematically reviewed to align with policy and the approval of the local school board.
You are welcome to download and customize the Appendix for FREE if you agree to one thing: If you know of a new requirement I have not included, you will email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can add it to the Appendix.
Here are 5 STEPS to make this a workable process.
Step 1: Create a Professional Development Plan (PDP) highlighting the Prioritized Professional Development activities for the district.
Step 2: Update Program Plans listed in the Appendix to align with the priorities in the PDP.
Step 3: Included the Prioritized Professional Development from the PDP in the DIP.
Step 4: Include the Appendix at the end of the DIP.
Step 5: Complete the Plan on a Page (see details in next blog post).
Granted, this will take some initial work, especially if the plans listed in the Appendix do not already exist. However, I believe it is worth the effort to follow this process.
As new laws and requirements are added, the Program Plans (and PDP) can be updated, and then the DIP will "automatically" be updated as well.
In Part II, I will discuss creating a Plan on a Page, which can serve as a "focus document" and provide "talking points" throughout the district.
You may also be interested in the post about the Plan Setup Checklist. This checklist contains the elements required in the DIP in addition to those included in the Appendix.