Practice Activity: Benchmarking Successful Schools
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Focus the school visit

. After you have identified and contacted the school you would like your team to visit, you will need to carefully plan the trip to ensure it provides the information you need. High performing schools may have hosted school visits before and, therefore, have an agenda for what they usually show visiting schools. You will want the visit to focus on those strategies that support your school's areas of need. You might ask the principal of the host school to share any ideas he/she has for the visit that would help your school.

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Some successful schools, as well as other organizations, might not be able to identify what they did that made them successful. They will have ideas or guesses, but you will have to look for validation of their hypotheses by requesting and examining answers to the following questions:

  • What was your objective?
  • What need did it address?
  • What did you do to attain your objective?
  • What evidence did you collect to indicate that you attained your objective?
  • What evidence do you have that what you did was what made the difference in the attainment of your objective?
The answers to these questions will help you hone in on those strategies that really made a difference and give you enough information to decide whether those strategies will fit your school's needs.

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You will also want your staff to collect any artifacts from the school that will help explain to the staff back at school what strategies the school has used successfully. Artifacts might include a data collection template, a staff development agenda, a sample of student work or a scoring tool to examine student work.

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