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New resource to help drive school improvement
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New resource to help drive school improvement

ACER news 5 minute read

A new book published by ACER is supporting educational leaders to clearly diagnose where their school is in the improvement cycle and implement strategies to move to the next stage.

Driving School Improvement 2nd edition: Practical strategies and tools, by Pamela Macklin and Vic Zbar, builds on the success of the 2017 edition and, with extensive feedback from the field, delivers significantly expanded, refined and updated research, case studies and techniques to help schools meet the implementation challenge.

‘Most school leaders know what needs to be done if they are to significantly improve their schools,’ say Macklin and Zbar. ‘Where schools, leaders and teachers struggle is in making it happen consistently through the school. That is because it is difficult, long-term work.’

Respected Canadian education consultant Michael Fullan, known worldwide for his books on educational reform, confirms the improvement challenge in his foreword to Driving School Improvement.

‘…a person with ideas, but no tools, progresses very slowly’ Fullan writes. ‘To “drive” something, and to get anywhere, one needs a fair amount of conceptual savvy, as well as high quality tools.’

Accordingly, Driving School Improvement provides a broad collection of tools, activities and pro formas that have been used successfully in a range of schools. The book contains 47 figures that cover roles and responsibilities, explicit lesson procedures, instructional models, use of data and more. It also contains 49 tables to assist with aspects of implementation such as diagnosing leadership behaviour, evaluating the effectiveness of your team, and developing and assessing learning goals. Tools and advice new to the second edition include:

  • a leadership framework and associated self-assessment
  • a sample plan for introducing a coaching program to your school
  • a pro forma and rubric to support classroom observation of the extent to which an orderly learning environment exists in the school
  • additional activities to enable the school to collaboratively develop, design and then implement its own instructional model, informed by the successful experience of other schools
  • an illustration of how learning goals can be used to plan a lesson for students regardless of the area or year level involved.

Fullan describes the book as ‘a systematic set of ideas and tools to assess and improve the schools we work in’.

‘The book is both motivational in the why and how to do this, but also inspirational and practical for focusing on improvement over time. You will find no book that is as thorough and helpful for improving one’s school on an ongoing basis,’ Fullan writes.

Through Driving School Improvement, Macklin and Zbar hope to support leaders and teachers to make the changes needed to ensure consistent improvement in their schools.

‘This means not just initiating and implementing the changes for improvement that are required, but embedding them so they become the ‘new normal’ of how things happen in the school,’ say Macklin and Zbar. ‘In this way, school improvement can transcend the leaders and teachers who were there at the start and become truly sustainable over time.’ ■

Find out more:

Read an interview with Pamela Macklin and Vic Zbar in Teacher, where they discuss a common improvement challenge faced by leaders, and share examples of how different schools are meeting this challenge.

Buy it now:

Driving School Improvement 2nd edition: Practical strategies and tools, by Pamela Macklin and Vic Zbar (ACER Press, 2021) is available now. Purchase a copy before 23 February 2021 and receive a free registration to the 'Driving School Improvement: An Overview' webinar at 4pm AEDT on 24 February, where the authors will be joined by three leading school principals who will explain how they are successfully implementing each of the three stages of whole school improvement.

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