Tool #8

School-Wide Growth Plan

 Most schools and districts have a professional development initiative identified for the entire population. Improving each educator’s knowledge, skills, and abilities to close the achievement gap for English learners might be a good example nationwide.

 Start with data

As with all cases identified for improvement, start with your data. What specifically does the organization want to pinpoint or target for improvement?

 Your goal may be:

Looking at your academic achievement data for mathematics in grade 9, the school will increase math scores between EL and non-EL students at grade 10 end of the second semester by increasing numbers of ELs who participate in regular algebra courses from 10% to 35%. The school will examine placement of ELs in remedial math courses and move them into regular math courses. The school will train math teachers on EL best practices to ensure ELs have access to the rigorous math coursework instead of remedial algebra courses.


Kanno, Y., & Kangas, S. N. (2014). “I’m not going to be, like, for the AP”: English language learners’ limited access to advanced college-preparatory courses in high schoolAmerican Educational Research Journal, 51(5), 848-878.*

Kanno, Y. American Association of Applied Linguistics 2015 Plenary:

Oropeza, M., Varghese, M., & Kanno, Y. (2010). ). Linguistic minority students in higher education: Using, resisting, and negotiating multiple labels. Equity and Excellence in Education, 43(2), 216-231.

Pinpoint your performance target

It is logical to expect that in order for educators to assist the affected EL students in closing their achievement gap between themselves and non-EL students, a deep understanding of factors affecting English language learners including their challenges, ways of learning, culture, and other mitigating circumstances pertaining to their learning will be useful.

 Increasing the probability of success in this effort across the entire school’s professional team can be increased by pinpointing a specific target. Be sure your performance target is “clean.” That means, it should be stated to measure only ONE pinpoint at a time.

 Here is an example: Each educator, including all administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals will view the two Whitewater Learning videos titled Legal Requirements for Serving English Language Learners© and Implementing Legal Requirements for Serving ELLs©, Ruslana Westerlund, content expert, by October XX, XXXX. Even though this is two modules it is only one pinpoint.

 The next steps are: select a set of social rewards, chart, take steps to keep the momentum going, and reward for successes.

  1. Select a set of social rewards from the list of Reinforcers that you may already have created. What are the incremental reinforcements that you will promote? A little competition between grade levels may help promote your deep dive. The top goal could be anything from an ice cream social to using the time required to complete modules, as defined in the each module, as compensation time for a scheduled professional development day. Sub-goals could be recognized with cards, public shout-outs in staff bulletin, or the like.
  2. How will you chart? The chart is easier to select after identifying your rewards, as a theme will likely emerge. You could use spin off charts to measure completion by learning communities and compiled onto a whole building chart.
  3. Take steps to keep the momentum moving forward. Keep the activity on the minds of your staff acknowledging achievement in such venues as the staff bulletin, staff meetings, a note to be read in a learning community, and other options. These become reinforcers in addition to momentum tools.
  4. And, always provided the promised rewards.

After the campaign is over and the staff is fueled with the common language contained in the set of modules be sure to reference the content often, find ways to use it as the teams of educators create universal and individual strategies to improve practices, review the building procedures for pupil management, grading, language used to describe populations and other factors than can affect EL learner success.

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