ISAAC 2020-23 STRATEGIC PLAN

THE INTERDISTRICT SCHOOL FOR ARTS AND COMMUNICATION

2020-2023 Strategic Plan

 

ISAAC’S CORE VALUES AND BELIEFS ABOUT LEARNING

ISAAC is a safe, nurturing, and diverse middle school in which arts and communication act as the heartbeat. Our professional learning community, comprised of passionate educators, are committed to the delivery of a rigorous curriculum that promotes effort through a growth mindset. We believe that all students can succeed with hard work and grit. Our stakeholders support the development of each student’s journey in becoming lifelong learners by developing the academic, civic, and social skills needed to be difference makers as active citizens in our communities. Learning at ISAAC prepares our students to become empathetic and courageous leaders through authentic tasks and experiences that promote creativity, critical thinking, and excellence.

 

 

THE ISAAC VISION OF THE GRADUATE

The ISAAC Vision of the Graduate is that all graduates are proficient in the following competencies:

1. Write effectively for various purposes

2. Speak to diverse audiences in an accountable manner

3. Develop the behaviors needed to interact and contribute with others on a team

4. Analyze and solve problems independently and collaboratively

5. Be responsible, creative, and empathetic members of the community

 

I. ALL STUDENTS CAN SUCCEED

Research has demonstrated that students learn best when teachers and students gain a growth mindset that embraces high expectations, meaningful feedback, and the ability to reflect on their own learning.

ISAAC follows the Common Core State Standards that concentrate heavily on literacy within all academic areas, including language arts and mathematics. Students must be able to read and write effectively for a variety of purposes by interpreting multiple sources with purpose and evidence. In addition, mastery of mathematics is an integral aspect of ISAAC’s Vision of the Graduate. The Common Core requires students to use, explain, and understand the role that mathematics plays in our world. Moreover, students are expected to make and explain well-founded judgments with mathematical reasoning using descriptive analysis that shows comprehension and evidence of understanding.

The ISAAC Core Values, Beliefs About Learning, and the Vision of the Graduate states that, upon 8th grade graduation, our students will possess a variety of academic, civic, and social competencies that will translate toward success at the high school level. These transferable skills and competencies are paramount to achieve our ultimate goal in ensuring that all students will be prepared for secondary education at any comprehensive, magnet, private, or technical high school they attend following graduation.

In 2014, the Connecticut State Department of Education adopted The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test as the grade 6, 7, and 8 state assessment. The SBAC test uses a redesigned assessment that focuses on the Common Core standards in reading, writing, and mathematics skills. The results from these exams are weighed and heavily considered in the decision regarding the number of years granted during the Charter Renewal process, decided by the Connecticut State Department of Education and Board of Education.

In order to ensure student academic, social, and civic success, ISAAC will identify action steps for a variety of strategic actions that will be supported by teachers’ student learning objectives (SLOs) for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. These SLOs will be aligned to the SBAC-styled summative assessments. ISAAC will create a school development improvement plan (SDIP) for all areas of improvement related to academic and social-emotional goals, along with a professional development plan in several areas. In subsequent years, beginning with a pilot process for the 2021-2022 school year, teachers will use the ISAAC School-Wide Analytic Rubrics created in alignment with the competencies described in the ISAAC Vision of the Graduate statement. These school-wide rubrics will be formative in nature and will accompany summative assessments and unit tasks as listed in the curriculum. ISAAC will also integrate the practice of Accountable Talk from the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Their research in reading comprehension has shown that using Accountable Talk in the classroom supports and increases cognitive development in students’ learning and using this discourse- based instructional approach facilitates effective reading comprehension. Furthermore, in a 2016 study of mathematics teaching across different schools, Jo Boaler found that instructional reform, that included a focus on Accountable Talk, increased student learning.

ISAAC will begin the candidacy process towards New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Accreditation. The commitment to NEASC accreditation aligns with the mindset for continuous school improvement. ISAAC will be engaged in a process of meeting the standards intended to promote an effective learning community with the capacity to meet the needs of all students through continuous reflection and growth. At a minimum, ISAAC must possess the foundational elements within each of the standards for accreditation. Following the completion of a written document describing our core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate, ISAAC will engage in professional development that will provide a written curriculum in a consistent format which is vertically aligned within each department for all courses. In addition, a Scientific Research-Based Intervention (SRBI) Team and process will be utilized to support all learners with the instructional strategies and interventions needed to ensure that all students can succeed at ISAAC.

 

Our Educational Strengths

  • ISAAC has an engaged teaching staff that is committed to ensuring students are successful in a safe, inclusive, and diverse learning environment.

  • ISAAC was recognized as a Connecticut School of Distinction in 2014.

  • ISAAC’s award-winning and dynamic music and performing arts programs continue to attract

    prospective students and prepare current students for successful high school and college

    careers.

  • ISAAC’s student led conferences and 8th grade portfolios allow students to demonstrate a

    variety of leadership and communication skills.

  • ISAAC has a Student Assistance Team that discusses and responds to individual students’

    emotional needs.

 

Our Opportunities for Growth and Improvement

NEASC Foundational Elements

  • ISAAC will write a document describing the ISAAC Core Values, Beliefs About Learning, and the Vision of the Graduate.

  • ISAAC will create written curriculum in a consistent format for all courses in all departments across the school.

  • ISAAC will develop a school improvement/growth plan.

  • ISAAC will establish an SRBI Team that provides intervention strategies designed to support

    learners.

  • ISAAC will prepare a plan to ensure the school site and plant supports the delivery of

    curriculum, programs, and services.

    In order to achieve these measures, a theory of action has been developed to ensure that the systems needed to achieve these areas of growth and improvement are created through a series of professional development opportunities to the teachers and staff at ISAAC.

 

Strategic Action 1.1:

If we create regular, structured, collaborative opportunities for teachers to meet weekly in content- specific Professional Learning Community (PLC) teams with a focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment, then they will use assessment data to improve their instructional strategies and student achievement will improve.

SA 1.1: Action Steps:

  • We will commit to extensive professional development in the area of PLCs, curriculum development, assessment development, and results.

  • We will commit one block period per week to PLC time.

  • We will establish and practice a structure for peer observation through Learning Walks within

    PLCs each month.

  • We will develop the curriculum throughout the school year based upon support from

    administration and feedback from the PLC teams, parents, and students.

  • We will create rigorous, authentic unit tasks that allow students to utilize the skills and

    knowledge gained in the classroom and beyond.

  • We will meet in PLCs to discuss lesson planning (what we want each student to learn) and student

    performance through assessment results (how do we know and respond).

  • We will explore the use of common formative assessments such as school-wide rubrics, in the

    areas identified through ISAAC’s Vision of the Graduate, as part of our regular practice and use the results of these rubrics to make purposeful, effective instructional choices that will appropriately challenge each student.

 

Strategic Action 1.2:

If we use the advisory model to foster and establish shared belief among all stakeholders that “effort creates ability” and all students can succeed, then we will increase student efforts towards achievement and responsibility for their own personal, academic, and career goals.

SA 1.2: Action Steps:

  • We will promote and discuss among all stakeholders the concepts of grit (Angela Duckworth), growth mindset (Carol Dweck), the belief that “effort creates ability,” and Accountable Talk (University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Learning).

  • We will foster a shared belief that “effort creates ability and that all students can succeed” through faculty-focused conversations related to effort-based success of ourselves and our students.

  • We will continue to lead students in growth mindset, grit, self-efficacy, and goal orientation through advisory experiences.

  • We will utilize the Advisory program to work with students, setting goals by developing Goal Setting Plans and conferencing one-on-one with students during advisory week.

  • We will offer extended learning opportunities (I-EXL) to support students who require more time and effort to achieve our rigorous standards.

 

Strategic Action 1.3:

If we incorporate Accountable Talk within our culture and motivate students to listen, respond critically to their teacher and peers, and defend their positions with evidence, then students will intentionally think at a higher level and improve academic achievement.

SA 1.3: Action Steps:

  • We will provide professional development on Academically Productive Talk that incorporates Accountable Talk.

  • We will utilize PLC time to implement the Learning Walk model to observe and promote professional and respectful discourse that will improve our instructional strategies in the area of Academically Productive Talk.

  • We will showcase and share exemplary lessons that promote the practice of Accountable Talk.

  • We will all create and practice the norms and skills of Academically Productive Talk in our

    classrooms and professional discourse.

Strategic Action #4:

If we continuously discuss and monitor student progress through a multi-measured systematic process over time, then scientifically-based interventions will improve student achievement.

SA4: Action Steps:

  • We will develop an SRBI process that will provide teachers with research-based interventions to improve student learning and behaviors.

  • We will share school-wide rubrics and common SBAC-styled assessment data, including the data tied to our SLOs.

  • We will share common assessment data among PLC and interdisciplinary teams to create lessons with teaching strategies that improve student achievement.

  • We will administer, disaggregate, and share 6th grade admissions and annual SBAC data with our teachers.

Our Academic Goals:

A. Receive Full NEASC Accreditation

• Implement a 3-year plan to become an accredited NEASC middle school, as defined by the 2020 standards for accreditation by the NEASC Commission on Public Schools, using the following standards: learning culture, student learning, professional practices, learning support, and learning resources

•Complete by Spring 2023

•Design an SDIP with specific targets and SLOs

•Complete by November 2020

•Develop and create systems to meet the Foundational Elements for accreditation

•Write the document stating the Core Values, Beliefs about Learning, and the Vision of the Graduate by Fall 2020 

•Complete curriculum in all courses by Fall 2022

•Establish an SRBI Program and SRBI Team by Fall 2022

Communicate progress to all ISAAC community stakeholders

•Report on a bi-annual basis

B. Increase ISAAC’s Next Generation Accountability Index

•Revise and strengthen the advisory curriculum that supports ISAAC’s Core Values, Beliefs About Learning, and the Vision of the Graduate

•Complete 6th Grade advisory curriculum by Fall 2020

•Complete 7th Grade advisory curriculum by Fall 2021

•Complete 8th Grade advisory curriculum by Fall 2022

Develop and create a master schedule that decreases class sizes and produces collaboration time for teachers within subject areas and grade level teams

Complete by Fall 2020

Customize a system of Professional Learning Communities by discipline that allows

teachers to develop curriculum, improve instruction, and create and discuss formative and summative assessments

Establish systems by Fall 2020 (June and August 2020 PD)

•Refine process to include Learning Walks by Fall 2021

Refine process to include curriculum revision process by Fall 2022

Ensure that a systematic and equitable system exists for measuring and reporting student progress

Create SBAC-styled summative assessments in mathematics, social studies, and language arts in all grades by Fall 2021

Create Next Generation Science Standards-styled summative assessments in science for all grades by Fall 2021

Enhance the climate within each classroom by designing lessons with targeted SLOs that promote effort and provide the appropriate rigor for all students for the entire lesson

Complete by Fall 2021

Construct and implement a grading system that promotes effort and enhances academic

skills by providing all stakeholders with a clear picture of a student’s skill level and accountability to the learning environment

Complete by Summer 2020

Develop systems and programs that celebrate academic, civic, and social successes 

throughout the school year

•Establish a Junior National Honor Society Program by January 2021

Revise the Honor Roll system to include High Honors by Fall 2020

C. Strengthen ISAAC’s Arts and Communications Programming

•Expand arts and communications programming with additional staff for dance, theater, and multimedia arts

Complete by Fall 2020

•Incorporate student/parent choice into arts and communications electives

•Compete by Fall 2020

•Enhance partnerships within the Arts Community

Hire an Arts Consultant by Fall 2020

•Create, design, and/or revise arts and communications curriculum

Complete by Fall 2022

D. Develop a Technology Enhancement Plan

•Improve the school’s technological infrastructure to support innovative and equitable opportunities within the curriculum throughout the entire school building

•Three Year Improvement Plan

Year 1: Provide infrastructure and equitable access throughout the school by January 2021

Year 1: Develop a system for a one-to-one program that prepares students for high school by Fall 2021

Year 1: Locate and apply for grants and e-rate funding sources for technological upgrades throughout ISAAC by Fall 2021

Years 1, 2, and 3: Enrich the safety and security of our school’s infrastructure

Years 1, 2 and 3: Deliver professional development that enables teachers to utilize technology in an efficient and innovative manner by Fall 2022

Years 2 and 3: Upgrade teachers’ and students’ laptops and classroom technology by Fall 2022

•Enhance technology within all curriculum, including in arts and communications

Complete by Fall 2021

 

E. Expand ISAAC’s I-EXL

•Design programming that meets the interests and needs of our student community, especially in the expansion of arts and athletics

Add cross country, track and field, and fencing for the 2020- 2021 school year and other sport programs in future years

Build academic support and enrichment components for programming

•Complete by Fall 2020

•Develop Summer Enrichment Academy (SEA) Program

Begin program Summer 2022

•Track student data, both academically and socially

Use school-wide analytic rubrics to compare SEA participants versus non-SEA

participants to evaluate growth in ISAAC’s Vision of the Graduates competencies

Begin Fall 2022

 

Strengthening Our Operations

ISAAC is at a critical point in our growth as an institution. For the past five years, the school has reached the capacity of our current building. The goal of this educational facility is to ensure a safe, secure, and healthy environment that supports the curriculum created for the diversity of the ISAAC student body. In addition, we want to ensure that as our programming expands in the arts and communications that the facility has appropriate and innovative spaces to bolster student learning and curriculum. Currently, ISAAC needs enhancements and upgrades to infuse technology into daily classroom instruction.

Our Operational Strengths

  • ISAAC has consistently grown in the curricular needs of our students while maintaining an annual budget within the allocated state funding allowances.

  • ISAAC has established the systems necessary to ensure sound fiscal practices that meet state governance policy.

  • ISAAC develops and maintains strong community partnerships within the region. Our socio- economic demographics and mission make us attractive partners for many organizations.

  • ISAAC has occupied our current location for close to 15 years with all spaces occupied by classrooms and staff workspaces.

  • Nearly 85% of ISAAC’s building has been renovated to serve the current needs of the school.

Our Opportunities for Growth and Improvement

•Develop a roadmap to financial stability:

•ISAAC will develop a diversified revenue stream. 

•ISAAC will develop an emergency fund to support our annual expenses.

ISAAC will enhance the endowment fund.

Align financial goals with ISAAC’s programming needs:

ISAAC will define ideal programs and seek funding to support them.

ISAAC will develop additional sources of revenue to attract and retain high quality faculty and staff.

ISAAC will create a new Special Education billing formula to support the programmatic needs of students.

Continue to improve and grow our facilities:

ISAAC will improve our music and theater department’s spaces and amenities to support the needs of the program.

ISAAC will continue to enhance our visual arts program.

•ISAAC will strengthen our science program by enhancing our science laboratory facilities.

ISAAC will upgrade and enrich our technological infrastructure to provide equity and meet the needs of a curriculum that incorporates

innovative instruction inside and outside the building.

ISAAC will develop short-term and long-term technology plans that will ensure all students have equitable access to an innovative curriculum.

ISAAC will continue to improve security measures, physically and virtually.

ISAAC will cultivate and maintain an ongoing list of current and future projects to help craft our annual budget and ongoing expenses.

Look for opportunities beyond ISAAC’s doors:

ISAAC will continually seek potential opportunities for growth within our neighborhood.

ISAAC will seek partnerships with regional institutions that will enhance our current programs.

Strategic Action 2.1:

If we provide effective integration of technology by teachers in a focused and deliberate manner that aligns with learning outcomes, then students will be motivated to become proficient in the use of technology and become active participants in the learning process through a love of learning.

SA 2.1: Action Steps:

  • We will commit to extensive professional development in the area of establishing a Google classroom for all classes, as appropriate.

  • We will utilize technology to provide high-quality feedback to students.

  • We will plan lessons that incorporate the use of technology by way of the one-to-one

    Chromebook program in grades 7 and 8.

  • We will ensure that students receive Digital Citizenship curriculum in the advisory program.

  • We will select and purchase new technology that promotes the use of Accountable Talk, then

    train staff to use the new technology in their classroom.

Strategic Action 2.2:

If we ensure that our school facilities are designed, developed, and maintained based on contemporary research to maximize teaching and learning, then teachers will have the ability to provide students with unique opportunities to explore and discover opinions and thoughts of others in an atmosphere that promotes a passion for learning.

SA 2.2: Action Steps:

  • We will explore the use of additional classroom space by partnering with the Garde Arts Center to provide an authentic experience within the arts.

  • We will ensure that the success of our school continues through a strategic three-year budget plan.

  • We will apply for outside funding that provides our facilities with innovative products and services that maximize learning and prepare our students for high school.

  • We will enrich the safety and security of our school by instituting best practices used throughout our country.

  • We will enhance the technological infrastructure by seeking cost-effective tools and hardware that improves teaching and learning.

  • We will seek opportunities that allow our students to play, learn, and grow through afterschool programming and athletics.

 

Our Operational Goals:

  1. Define a Three-Year Projected Budget for ISAAC

•Determine our future financial needs by naming our ideal per pupil investment

•Define specific programs and activities that require financial support

•Align budget needs with ISAAC’s mission and programming

Complete by March 2021

B. Establish Reliable and Transparent Funding Structures

•Revise and strengthen all formal financial procedures

Complete by Fall 2020

C. Engage in Revenue Planning

•Identify strategies for generating funding

Complete by Fall 2021

Create a database of potential resources to support school needs that includes public grants, local sources, foundations, community development institutions, business/corporate sources, and individual donors

Complete by Fall 2023

D. Develop an Endowment and/or Education Fund for ISAAC

Create a plan to solicit and gain support for the ISAAC endowment or education fund through a fundraising event that attracts potential donors

Complete by April 2022 (Gala Event in Spring 2022)

E. Create a Capital Renewal Strategy and Plan

Support expansion and continued improvements to the school facilities

Ensure all programming needs are met within a single campus or through networked resources

Strive for a state-of-the-art middle school facility for all disciplines

Develop a specific list of needs and set goals for completion

Complete by Summer 2022 

 

Reaching Out to Our Community

Our community is our most important asset, whether it is within our immediate ISAAC family or in the cities and towns that surround us in the southeastern Connecticut region. We are a stronger institution because of these individual and organizational connections. It is our vision that we strengthen ties by improving our communications and broadening our relationships within the community.

Communication is key in the enhancement and promotion of a positive culture and climate. In addition to the transparent communication that should exist between school, families, and the community, it is vital that, as a choice charter school, our branding and messaging are purposeful and strong. ISAAC seeks to develop trust with our community as a premier choice middle school for all students seeking a unique educational opportunity. The ISAAC brand relates to the exceptional opportunities found in our small and diverse school that is focused in the arts and communication. The strategy for this marketing will be grounded in our online presence through the website and social media. Our public relations will be enhanced by promoting the distinct opportunities that exist for students while promoting the successes of our students through the different modes of media within southeastern Connecticut. Furthermore, the strongest mode of marketing comes from word-of-mouth. Parents, students, and community leaders who have positive experiences with ISAAC provide the most fruitful marketing for schools.

The strong academic, social, and civic preparation of each student for high school is the greatest success our school can achieve. Throughout a student’s three years at ISAAC, the staff ensures that our students and their families are thinking, researching, and planning for the high school that meets their needs academically, emotionally, and financially. As each class leaves ISAAC for high school, our ultimate goal is to ensure that they are prepared for the challenges of high school pursuits.

Our Strengths

  • ISAAC is located in downtown New London with its rich cultural amenities, including the Garde Arts Center.

  • ISAAC’s student body is diverse in experiences, capabilities, interests, beliefs, perceptions, ethnicities, etc.

  • ISAAC’s alumni are compassionate and responsible citizens who share their global knowledge with current students.

Our Opportunities for Growth and Improvement

  • ISAAC will better communicate our successes and programmatic celebrations to the community.

  • ISAAC will improve our name recognition through increased branding and marketing efforts.

  • ISAAC will expand and strengthen community and financial partnerships. 

 

  • ISAAC will build a community database that represents all areas of our community (partners, alumni, and parents).

  • ISAAC will cultivate stronger internal relationships with parents, alumni, and board.

Strategic Action 3.1:

If we increase the communication of the strengths of ISAAC and celebrate the successes throughout the school year in different modes of communication, then students, parents, staff, and the community will voice their ISAAC Pride to promote ISAAC as one of the premier middle schools to attend in southeastern Connecticut.

SA 3.1: Action Steps:

  • We will communicate important highlights and upcoming events to our students, parents, and the community through weekly emailed newsletters and text messages and by utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.

  • We will seek feedback from parents, students, and teachers and use the retrieved data to adjust school environment practices, procedures, and policies, as needed.

  • We will provide press releases for positive events and celebrations at ISAAC.

Strategic Action 3.2:

If we deepen partnerships with community, business, and education leaders in the field of academics, arts, and communications, then students will benefit from a multitude of unique opportunities, and our teachers will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to prepare students for high school and beyond.

SA 3.2: Action Steps:

  • We will meet with leaders from local high schools and higher education institutions to gain insight and ideas for providing expert instruction and high school preparation for our students.

  • We will track our graduates and their successes at local high schools.

  • We will partner with leaders in the fields of arts and communications to enhance the curriculum

    and experiences for teachers and students.

  • We will develop innovative programs in collaboration with post-secondary institutions and/or

    local community leaders in many fields, including arts and communications.

We will interface with local political leaders for the promotion, support, and funding of ISAAC

and charter education in Connecticut.

Our Community Goals:

A. Develop a Standard Procedure for All Communications

•Include protocols for school delay/dismissal/cancellation announcements, field trips, I- EXL, IPAT, and school climate issues

•Revise agenda protocols for all meetings to improve efficiency and appearance consistent with highly regarded educational institutions

Modify the appearance and methods of delivery so all communications are consistent in appearance and reception, and they establish clear timelines

Complete by Fall 2020

B. Boost Board of Director Development and Community Interaction

Continue to recruit future board members with specialized expertise in areas such as finance, legal, education, non-profit, facilities, and community leadership

Ongoing

Provide transparent information that accurately describes the school so that the Board

may shift their focus from a “management board” to a “development board”

•Complete by Spring 2021

•Establish regular Board training, specifically in Charter School renewal, academic achievement, NEASC accreditation, and any other areas deemed necessary

•Complete by Fall 2020

Institute internal and external community outreach practices for the Board

•Complete by Fall 2020

C. Grow Leadership and Faculty Recruiting Opportunities

Continue to recruit, retain, and augment talented staff that embody ISAAC’s Core Values, Beliefs about Learning and the Vision of the Graduate while possessing the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to move our school forward and to help our diverse student body perform at the highest levels

Provide leadership opportunities for all teachers within the PLC model and other positions within the school

Ongoing

D. Enhance Current Relationships and Create New Ones

Create, maintain, and use a database, comprised of community partners, board members, families, alumni, and organizations, for networking.

Work to recognize individuals and organizations that contribute to the school

Plan events and activities for community participation

Promote school image in the community at large

Complete database system by Summer 2021 with ongoing updates and opportunities

E. Advocate for Equitable Transportation Practices with Other Choice Programs.

Collaborate and educate elected officials on the inequity among charter schools and other choice programs within the state statutes

Establish committed partnerships with sending districts who provide transportation for ISAAC students

Complete by Fall 2022