School Improvement Planning in 2021? Start Here!

Plus, get a free eBook to help guide you!

Sponsored By Van Andel Institute for Education
Principal wearing mask and colleague using tablet discuss school improvement planning

If the COVID-19 pandemic upended your plans for your school, you’re certainly not alone. Most school leaders are facing steeper hurdles than ever before and addressing new priorities. Fortunately, the school improvement process remains as relevant as ever. Follow this basic plan, drawn from VAI’s Admin Guide: Seven Tips for Successful School Improvement Planning… 2021-Style! (download it to go more in depth), and you’ll be well on your way to giving your students, staff, and community the best chance at success:

Start with a Vision

What does a successful school mean to you? There’s plenty that “sound good,” but you want to go for clarity here. Challenge yourself to capture your vision in a one-page visual. Very few people will read your entire plan end to end, but most everyone that picks it up will remember a graphic or image that cleanly and clearly articulates a compelling vision.

Conduct a Needs Analysis

Consider what aspects of your school contribute to your vision. Then give each of those aspects a thorough assessment to see what’s working well and what can be improved. Pro tip: rely on partners who specialize in certain areas to help conduct these types of assessments. This can help you avoid unintended biases and offer insights you might not have thought of.

Identify Goals Based on Needs

Aim for a reasonable number of goals that are rigorous but achievable. Avoid broad goals that sound good but can’t clearly tie back to a demonstrated need that aligns with your vision. Holding to that guideline will keep you and your team focused throughout the goal-setting process.

Outline Action Items

For each goal, you’ll need to figure out what needs to happen in order for that goal to be accomplished. Break it down into specific, actionable tasks, each with a timeline, funding/resource allocation, person responsible, and success metric. Now is the time to delegate! Download the ebook for access to this SIP Goal Template Google Doc:

Screen shot of SIP goal template

Communicate Your Plan

Anyone who is directly impacted by your plan should get it from you personally. Also, keep in mind groups who might be indirectly affected (parent-teacher association, after-school programs, etc.), and make it accessible to them, too. If there are particularly interesting or newsworthy elements of your plan, don’t be afraid to share those with local media.

Work the Plan

Whatever you do, don’t tuck your plan into a drawer, never to be seen again until next year’s planning cycle. It should be a living document, and you should keep it within arm’s reach at all times. This way, it’s top of mind as you make decisions and celebrate successes.

Like what you see? School improvement planning in 2021 is about more than these steps. Get VAI’s Admin Guide to learn about how to support teachers now, involve your community, and more.

Get the Free eBook

Cover of VAI Admin Guide: Seven Tips for Successful School Improvement Planning 2021-Style


School Improvement Planning in 2021? Start Here!