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Does Your DIP Provide Leadership?

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Which came first, the DIP or the CIP? Does the District Improvement Plan drive the Campus Improvement Plans, or is it the other way around?

According to the Texas Education Code (TEC 11.251) the district improvement plan and the campus improvement plans are to be "mutually supportive" to accomplish the identified district and campus performance objectives.

I like to call it the Texas Two-Step. It is like a dance that goes back and forth. The district sets the Vision and Mission based on the needs of the campuses.

What must go into improvement plans, and which practices are shown to be effective? Just including all the legally required elements can easily yield 50+ page plans that often are used primarily as compliance documents.

Does it really even matter? Let's take a look at what the research has to say.

Multiple education leaders have agreed that elaborately formatted documents developed with more focus on the process than the outcomes is not only a waste of time, but can even have an inverse relationship to student achievement (Schmoker, 2004) and Guskey (2005).

In Douglas B. Reeves work from The Learning Leader (Reeves, 2006), he examined hundreds of improvement plans that were scored by two independent raters on 20 dimensions of planning, implementing, and monitoring (Reeves, 2006; White, 2005) and compared the plans to student achievement. Their findings were striking: the plans that ranked higher had higher student achievement and significantly higher achievement gains.

Similarly, in District Leadership that Works (Marzano & Waters, 2009) in a meta-analysis of studies found that district leadership does matter and identifies five leadership practices proven to increase student achievement by 9.5 percentile points (.24 effect size) if implemented, and the superintendent improves his or her leadership abilities by one standard deviation.

Five District-Level Leadership Practices Proven to Impact Student Achievement

  1. Ensuring collaborative goal setting

  2. Establishing non-negotiable goals for achievement and instruction

  3. Creating board alignment with and support of district goals

  4. Monitoring achievement and instruction goals

  5. Allocating resources to support the goals for achievement and instruction

In School Leadership that Works (Marzano & Waters, 2005), also a meta-analysis, the research identifies 21 Principal Responsibilities (sound familiar?) when implemented (.25 effect size) results in student achievement gains of 10 percentile points. The 21 Principal Responsibilities are the foundation of the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS) and other similar systems across the country.

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." Lewis Carroll

So how do we implement these proven practices in a time-efficient way and create a DIP someone will actually use to make a difference?

All five of the leadership practices identified by Marzano and Waters are initimately tied to the grants process. We will take a dive into the first of these, ensuring collaborative goal setting, in the next blog post entitled "Does Your CNA Show the Way?"

After conducting an effective Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA), we can then develop the District Improvement Plan (DIP), which will be discussed in more detail, in a later blog post.

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