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What the research says on how our best performing schools

Creating a high performing School What the research says on how our best performing schools come out on top Courtesy of AITSL

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	Creating a high performing School
What the research says on how our best performing 
schools come out on top
Courtesy of AITSL
2
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Some common data
In all schools, relatively high levels of literacy, numeracy 
and VCE outcomes are paralleled by:

Low absenteeism

High staff opinion, especially of student motivation

High student opinion of teaching and learning variables

3
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
What we found 
-
common themes

Each case study is unique 
—
reflective of local 
circumstances and strategic responses

Each case study had lots of replicable strategies and ideas

research
4
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
What we found 
–
10 lessons
1.
Strong leadership that is shared, stable, strategic and 
sustained over time
2.
High levels of expectation and teacher efficacy
3.
Ensuring an orderly but supportive learning environment
4.
A focus on what matters most
5.
Building teaching and leadership expertise
6.
Structured teaching to ensure all students succeed 
7.
Using data to drive improvement
8.
A staff culture of sharing and responsibility
9.
Initiatives tailored to the direction of the school
10.
Engender pride in the school
5
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
10 Lessons 
—
Two sorts
10 lessons were identified which identify the key success 
factors; but these lessons, which inevitably overlap, were of 
two different sorts

Those which constitute preconditions for substantial 
improvement

Those which enable the schools to sustain improvement 
over time
6
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Preconditions for improvement

Strategies which must be in place for improvement to take 
hold

Generally the starting point for improvement efforts in the 
schools

Where they do not exist, they may require external 
intervention or support
7
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Precondition 1
Strong leadership that is shared, stable, strategic and sustained 
over time
‘I know of no improving school that doesn’t have a principal who is 
good at leading improvement’ 
—
Michael 
Fullan
The precondition of the preconditions
Lesson 1
8
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Precondition 1
Strong leadership that is shared, stable and sustained 
over time

Leadership with a clear vision and direction for the school with a 
capacity to influence others 
–
strong purpose sustained over time

Leadership is 
developed
, shared and spread through the school. 
Principal as the leader of leaders.

The leadership is highly strategic 
–
relentless but realistic

Though teaching is the key, leaders establish the conditions for high 
quality teaching
Lesson 1
9
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Precondition 2
High levels of expectation and teacher efficacy

High expectations 
—
challenge the argument ‘you cannot expect more 
from these kids’


High expectations for students flows through to staff and promotion of 
teacher efficacy 
—
we can make a difference for the students we 
teach 

Linked to leaders expectations of teachers and teachers expectations 
of each other 
–
high level of internal accountability.
Lesson 2
10
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Precondition 3
Ensuring an orderly learning environment where every 
student is well known

A fundamental precondition for improved teaching and learning, and 
subsequent improvement in student outcomes

The starting point for improvement in each case


The basis for further united action in the school

The mirror image of the situation in under
-
performing schools
Lesson 3
11
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Precondition 4
A focus on what matters most

Relatively few priorities focused on core things students need

A clear sense of how to prioritise and put first things first (in the context 
of the school)

Reflects the importance of leadership (strategic leadership)

Importance of difference with school effectiveness models 
–
it does 
matter what you do first.
Lesson 4
12
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Some quick wins from these 
schools
The orderly learning environment in every case  

The observation room

Work Ethic Committee
Underpins relentless implementation
13
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Sustaining improvement
Six key interrelated strategies that:

Build on the preconditions for improvement

Sustain ongoing improvement momentum beyond the initial 
successes achieved
14
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Lesson 5
Building teaching and leadership expertise

Work to build teacher capacity around the core priorities

Develop leadership skills, especially of middle level leaders 

Recruit expertise where needed and 
utilise
the full range of capacities 
already in place

Expect that expertise is used to best effect and develop a process for 
giving  feedback on performance
Lesson 5
15
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Lesson 6
Structure teaching to ensure all students succeed

All of the schools adopt a structured approach to teaching

They work to improve their understanding of teaching strategies that 
work and demonstrate a relatively sophisticated understanding of how 
students learn

Structured and explicit teaching approaches are supported by 
assessment regimes that ensure students are well known and their 

Puts a premium on instructional leadership
Lesson 6
16
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Lesson 7
Using data to drive improvement

Sharing and using data to analyse school and student performance and then 
drive improvement

Supplement the rich array of required data with additional sources of evidence 
to provide a comprehensive picture of student performance and individual 
student needs

Using data to shift the focus from inference to evidence
Lesson 7
17
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Lesson 8
A culture of sharing and responsibility

High levels of staff collegiality and mutual support, with structures in 
place to help teachers share and learn

Active PLTs and an expectation that teaching and learning programs 
are documented and shared

The high degree of sharing provides a means of turning individual into 
collective teacher efficacy.
Lesson 8
18
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Lesson 9
Tailoring initiatives to the direction of the school

The schools all ensure that broader systemic or government initiatives 
are integrated with the overall directions and priorities that are set. 
(e.g. 
Performance & development culture
)

Principals as ‘meaning makers’ or ‘coherence makers’

The most valued initiatives in this context are those which reinforce the 
rigour
Lesson 9
19
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Lesson 10
Engender pride in the school

All take pride in their buildings and grounds as well as the work the 
students produce

This reflects a general expectation that everything is of high quality in 
the school
Lesson 10
20
 2010 Hay Group. All rights reserved
Conclusion

Many of the lessons are no surprise and reflect the findings of 
research

preconditions for improvement and other factors related to sustaining 
momentum. This has implications for how schools might approach 
improvement

The successes of these schools were not achieved overnight. A stable 
and consistent leadership team worked on their strategic approach for 
a significant number of years