Strands

Strand classifications are assigned to school level data only. County and the State SPI results are not assigned a strand classification.

The School Progress Index (SPI) and the school’s result on each of the Indicators of the Index will give the school a very clear picture of their progress to meeting targets. Once the School Progress Index is calculated (with values of 0 to 1 or greater), the scores will be broken into five strands for identifying interventions, support, and recognition to schools. Schools in Strand 1 will be schools meeting all targets and schools not meeting any of their targets will likely be in Strand 5. Although schools will, as always, have very unique profiles, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will group the schools based on a measure of the magnitude of the issues these schools face when meeting their targets. This Strand categorization allows MSDE and the Local Education Agency (LEA) to differentiate resources to schools by magnitude of need while precise diagnosis occurs at the school.

STRAND 1

If schools fall into Strand 1, the schools have a School Progress Index score of 1.0 or better and will have met their targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. These schools are usually meeting and exceeding the academic standards for all students. Schools that score in this Strand may have met the minimum standards set by the State for closing the achievement gaps but will, through development of the School Improvement Plan (SIP), want to set even higher standards. Additionally, schools will examine the data they have that indicate any need whether academic, physical, emotional, or cultural and develop intervention plans.

Since data for the School Progress Index will be published annually, focused and intense interventions for students not showing growth will need to be provided to maintain the status of a Strand 1 school. Although the Maryland School Assessments (MSAs) are meant to assess the most important academic content in all Maryland classrooms, teachers and leaders understand that they are responsible for the whole child. That means that at times tools to keep students organized and persevering in their work will need to be partnered with the ongoing support for the content of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.

Support to these schools beyond the SIP may take different forms. The school should be able to identify the professional development and training that can lead to additional improvement in achievement. The LEA may provide this resource or schools may leverage other sources of funding to seek training beyond the current staff within the LEA.

Monitoring for these schools is left to the LEA and its theory of action. Each year the LEA will review the SIPs of a random sample of one to three percent of the schools in Strand 1. The LEA Superintendent will report on the examination of these plans through the Master Plan process (reviewed by MSDE) assuring that any omissions or inadequacies will be addressed in these and all other SIPs. This will allow MSDE to have insight into the School Improvement Plan process from the school’s perspective and the school will receive feedback that will assist with the continued improvement of the school’s ability to diagnose and prescribe interventions.

STRAND 2

If schools fall into Strand 2, the schools have a School Progress Index score greater than or equal to 0.9 and will have met at least two of their three targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. The successes and challenges of schools in Strand 2 will be varied. Schools may excel at Mathematics but lag in reading or vice-versa. In this case, the balance of Achievement, Growth, Gap Reduction and College- and Career-Readiness Goals can yield relatively high-performing schools with targeted needs that, when addressed, could lead them to enter Strand 1.

More than one area of need may drive the school to focus on one and then another intervention sequentially or consider a quasi-systemic plan that would embrace all of the needs at once. The SIP process will again ensure that each subgroup is addressed and identified needs drive professional development for teachers and appropriate interventions for the students. MSDE will dictate no specific support for schools in Strand 2. However, it is expected that LEAs will take particular interest in the needs in these schools. Although an individual school’s assessment of data is recommended for sustained improvement, it will additionally serve as an excellent source for the LEA to determine system-wide professional development.

LEA monitoring for Strand 2 schools will be identical to the random inspection of SIPs as described for Strand 1, with a larger sample of four to five percent. MSDE will also require the LEA with Strand 2 schools to describe in the annual Master Plan Update the overall process for addressing the production of useful, focused SIPs; the commonalities discovered through this analyses and syntheses of data; and the system-wide professional development plan that emerges from that work. There will be specific language in the Master Plan guidance developed by the Bridge to Excellence (BTE) External Advisory Panel.

STRAND 3

If schools fall into Strand 3, the schools have a School Progress Index score greater than or equal to 0.9 and have met at least one of their three targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. Strand 3 schools will show an increase in the intensity of needs identified by the School Improvement Process. Schools in Strand 3 may have multiple subgroups struggling to achieve standards or may have intensive, pervasive problems for one very low-performing subgroup. More often than for schools in Strand 2, LEAs and schools may determine the need for a systemic solution rather than, or in addition to, continued support to individual subgroups. Title I schools that fall into this Strand will be eligible to apply for 1003(a) School Improvement Grant funds to support the direction toward improvement detailed in the SIP.

LEAs are directed to oversee the School Improvement Process for Strand 3 schools. Many configurations may be used for the delivery of professional development or training but LEAs must be closely in touch with these schools and regularly checking on progress. Additionally, LEAs will have a section of the Master Plan to address Strand 3 activities separately. Commonalities of the school concerns should be addressed and detailed plans for improvement should be included. Successes and challenges will be addressed through monitoring questions developed by the BTE External Advisory Panel.

STRAND 4

If schools fall into Strand 4, the schools have a School Progress Index score greater than or equal to 0.9 and have not met any of their targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. Strand 4 schools are those that are generally not meeting targets. These schools fall close to the bottom of progress for schools in the State. They are not identified as falling into the last strand but they are near that point. Rarely will these schools have focused problems with one specific subgroup. Most often, a systemic change will be necessary to address all instruction as well as those ancillary supports, like classroom management training, that can prevent other problems from interfering with instruction. Support for the improvement of instruction, the retraining of the leadership staff, and intensified outreach to families to become involved with their child’s school should be addressed by all schools in this strand and with LEA oversight. LEAs should look carefully at the existing supports in the schools to determine effectiveness of the current path to improvement. Schools with serious needs require the attention and support of the whole community and Strand 4 schools will consider intentional activities to create community involvement.

For monitoring, LEAs must include in their Master Plan Update the process that is used to assure that each Strand 4 school has the most effective school improvement plan possible. Additionally, specific guiding questions will ask for a description of any differentiation of supports to these schools with very low scores on the School Progress Index. Any Title I Focus school that falls into Strand 4 will be eligible to apply for 1003(a) School Improvement funds to support the path for improvement stated in their school improvement plans.

STRAND 5

If schools fall into Strand 5, the schools have a School Progress Index score lower than 0.9 but may have met as many as two of their targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. The lowest-progressing schools in the State will fall into Strand 5. Schools falling into this strand will generally display school-wide issues that require additional, differentiated services from the LEA. These schools are also going to present the most need from student services. Required supports for Strand 5 schools that are not Title I include using the School Improvement Grant (SIG) process. The SIG process provides clear needs assessments and support through the LEA Turnaround offices. Those Title I schools in this Strand may have access to additional school improvement dollars with well defined plans for improvement. All schools, Title I or non-Title I, will receive differentiated support from the LEA.

Monitoring of these schools will be covered by the LEA and MSDE if they are Priority or Focus. The other schools will be required to provide assurances within the Master Plan to the State Superintendent of Schools that all required interventions, reporting, and monitoring are being supplied by the LEA.