Partnership with Mass Insight to Build Capacity; Boost Student Achievement
The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation has announced a partnership with Mass Insight Education and Research Institute that ultimately will lead to unparalleled student success in the EVSC. Mass Insight Education is a national organization focusing on improving student outcomes in our country’s schools by changing conditions in school districts, building capacity, and clustering schools. This collaboration gives EVSC greater capacity to reach its goals by providing additional individuals and resources to implement strategies, methods, and
conditions to increase student achievement at all EVSC schools.
EVSC Superintendent David Smith said, “Through the Mass Insight Education partnership and funding provided by the Department of Education, we will be able to increase our capacity to support schools with best practices and strategies that will help our students. And, because EVSC teachers have already developed a framework and proven track record of flexibility in school day, planning processes, and data driven instruction – the EVSC will be able to develop a ‘Transformation Zone.’ In this zone, individuals dedicated to building on the Equity framework, will accelerate student achievement gains at identified schools and eventually, across the school district.”
During the past several years, the EVSC has built a foundation ready to support this type of bold advancement in education, according to authorities with Mass Insight Education. “We believe EVSC is the most well positioned school corporation in the state of Indiana to take on this work,” said Justin Cohen, president of Mass Insight Education’s School Turnaround Group. “With innovations already in place such as the Equity framework, EVSC has multiple embedded conditions that will propel this transformative work forward.”
Among the foundational work now positioned in the EVSC is:
- A robust data warehouse containing student information, grades, discipline, attendance, and more; and Data Wise training on how to access and understand student data to better inform how to help individual students and groups of students.
- A school-wide planning procedure endorsed by the Indiana Department of Education, that focuses on continuous improvement processes informed by the strategic use of data and metrics.
- A nationally-recognized Full Service Community Schools framework that wraps academic, social/emotional, and physical supports around students in need.
- Operational Excellence, a systems-wide approach to finding ways to operate efficiently and effectively. This is unique in educational settings – having only one other example in the nation in a school district.
- Response to Intervention (RtI) framework, a multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavior problems. With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness.
- Ground-breaking “EQUITY Schools” concept – established collaboratively with the Evansville Teachers Association – allowing for more flexibility in changing what is needed at a particular school, based on the student needs at that particular school, and altering teacher and school schedules and systems to meet those needs.
Keith Gambill, president of the Evansville Teachers Association, pointed to the flexibility that was created by the EQUITY schools concept, in setting a precedent for more opportunities for the future. “By acknowledging the expertise of the professionals in the schools and classrooms, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and the Evansville Teachers Association have been able to create positive changes in our public schools,” Gambill said. “We listened to the needs of teachers and support staff, examined evidence, and put together a game plan that was moldable for each school. The EQUITY Schools project was never about finding a one-size fits all plan. Instead it is about sharing best practices and addressing the needs of each school. The philosophy has proven successful in our schools.”
Conditions in the EVSC are ripe to do this work, said Ami Magunia, engagement manager for Mass Insight Education. “Just as teachers differentiate instruction for their students so that each student can be reached the way they learn best, Mass Insight and EVSC will differentiate support for schools, clustering schools needing the most at this time and providing more supports where it is needed.” Five initial schools have been selected for this work: Caze Elementary, Evans School, Glenwood Leadership Academy, Lincoln School, and McGary Middle School.
During the three-year strategy, Mass Insight Education will:
- Support EVSC’s creation of a new Office of Transformational Support that will be accountable directly to the Superintendent for academic results of Transformation Zone Schools;
- Initiate the corporation-wide diagnostic component for all business practices to make certain that all functional areas align with our strategic mission
- Support Transformational Zone Schools as they pursue innovative and sustainable reform strategies;
- Monitor progress made and outcomes achieved in the Transformational Zone Schools;
- Engage families, partners, and community members in the reform process.
This is a three-year initiative. Currently, in Phase I, Mass Insight Education is working to identify the strengths, opportunities, and areas for improvement in the corporation – as it pertains to the five identified schools.
Phase II will begin a planning year to the lay foundation for the Transformation Zone, and an Office of Transformational Support, as well as an Advisory Council.
Phase III will be the implementation of the Transformation Zone and the support of a system-wide strategy based on the EQUITY School framework.
“We are looking forward to this collaboration that will most assuredly take EVSC schools to the next level. We are proud of our teachers and school leaders who continue to think innovatively and deeply about the needs of students and their achievement,” Smith said. “High performing organizations are always bold and introspective. We know our employees continually strive to do what is right and necessary for students. I am extremely proud that EVSC’s teachers and staff do not accept the status quo, but are willing to boldly step out and innovate to help our students succeed.”