Continuous Improvement ResourcesLevel 1 Resources and tools to assist local educational agencies, schools, and local stakeholders as they plan and implement their continuous improvement efforts through their Local Control and Accountability Plan and school planning processes.
- Resources By Topic
The Continuous Improvement Resources web page is a Level 1 Resource dedicated to providing high quality, timely, and responsive resources and tools that are designed to assist all local educational agencies (LEAs) and their schools to meet the needs of each student served, with a focus on building capacity to sustain continuous improvement and effectively address inequities in student support and outcomes.
Suggested Use: The resources and tools provided below can be used to assist all LEAs, schools, and local stakeholders as they plan and implement their continuous improvement efforts through the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) process and school planning processes. At a minimum, the information, including resources and tools, can be used as discussion starters to support the continuous improvement process.The California Department of Education welcomes feedback on the resources and tools provided on this web page so they may be updated and evolve to better address the needs of the users. Please contact the staff member at the bottom of the web page with feedback and questions.
Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework
A brief by the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd that shares the critical practices of successful improvement in four domains: (1) Leadership, (2) Talent Development, (3) Instructional Transformation, and (4) Culture Shift. Each domain offers examples of how each practice would be put into action at each level of the system. This tool can also be used as a framework for prioritizing and conducting needs assessments for improvement efforts.
- Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: An Implementation Framework (PDF; 3MB)
This companion paper describes how to use the Four Domains in practice.
- Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: Indicators of Effective Practice (PDF)
This document provides indicators for each practice identified in the framework that enable stakeholder teams to identify with greater certainty whether a relevant practice from the four domains is standard and routinely operational or whether more work is needed.
Utilizing Integrated Resources to Implement the District and School Improvement Cycle and Supports
Using the improvement cycle as a framework, this document integrates five resources into a concise and practical guide for constructing a cohesive system of support for continuous improvement. Included are tools, templates, and coaching tips to assist LEAs through the continuous improvement cycle. Key tools include:
- Tool B: Coaching Techniques and Questions—protocols to facilitate deep discussions and probing questions to push thinking and challenge old ideas.
- Tool C: LEA Self-Reflection to Support School Improvement—starting point that informs the LEA’s direction and structure. Can be included as one part of a more comprehensive needs assessment.
California's Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)
California’s MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that aligns academic, behavioral, and social-emotional learning in a fully integrated system of support for the benefit of all students. MTSS offers the potential to create needed systematic change through intentional design and redesign of services and supports to quickly identify and match to the needs of all students, leading to improved student outcomes.
Toolkit for a Workshop on Building a Culture of Data Use
The conceptual framework of this workshop draws on five research-based elements known to support an effective culture of data use. The workshop toolkit contains structured activities to develop an understanding of how to foster a culture of data use in districts and schools. Supporting materials include a facilitator guide and agenda, a slide deck, and participant handouts.
Differentiated Assistance Protocols for Local Educational Agencies (LEAs): Facilitation Guide—Second Edition (PDF; 14MB) This guide produced by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) was developed for LEAs identified for Differentiated Assistance under California’s System of Support. However, the protocols can be used independently by non-identified LEAs for support in Dashboard Analysis, Local Measures Analysis, System Analysis (which includes an LEA Self-assessment and the Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation Fidelity Integrity Assessment [SWIFT-FIA]), and Root Cause Analysis into One Identified Area.
District Readiness to Support School Improvement
From the Four Domains Series: this guide can assist the LEA and local stakeholders in assessing its readiness for bringing about sustainable systemic change.
Rubric for Assessing School’s Plans for Rapid Improvement (PDF)
This rubric includes 12 key planning domains that support effective year-long or short-cycle school improvement plans.
Tools to Support Needs Assessment and Root Cause Analysis
- Module 2B: Designing a Needs Assessment for Continuous Improvement (PDF)
- Worksheet 2 (DOC)
- Worksheet 3 Template (DOC)
- Worksheet 4 Template (DOC)
- Needs Assessment Key Questions (DOC)
- Decision Points to Consider (DOC)
- Module 2C: Introduction to Root Cause Analysis (PDF)
- Worksheet 5 (DOC)
- Root Cause Analysis Toolkit (DOC)
- Fishbone PowerPoint Template
from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education Protocols and Tools for Supporting Improvement Science
- Driver Diagram Template (PDF)
Additional Needs Assessment Resources
Using Needs Assessments for District and School Improvement (PDF; 1MB)
A tactical guide that describes the core components for developing and administering needs assessments for improvement.
Needs Assessment Guidebook (PDF; 1MB)
The Needs Assessment Guidebook is a tool from the U.S. Department of Education’s State Support Network that describes the elements and implementation phases of an effective needs assessment process.
Evidence-based decision making and reflection are at the core of the continuous improvement process and are used in each step of the continuous improvement cycle. Using data and evidence keeps the continuous improvement process guided toward the desired outcome. These tools and resources can assist the LEA with making evidence-based decisions to support their continuous improvement planning process.
Tools for Selecting Evidence-based Strategies
Evidence-based Interventions Under the ESSA
The CDE’s Evidence-based Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) web page includes resources to explain and define “evidence-based” interventions under the ESSA, as well as useful links for selecting evidence-based interventions such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Non-regulatory Guidance: Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments (PDF).
Databases of Evidence-based Programs and Practices
Evidence for ESSA Database
The Evidence for ESSA Database was created by the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University to help identify programs and practices that meet the ESSA evidence standards. It provides a free, authoritative, user-centered database to help anyone – school, district, or state leaders, teachers, parents, or concerned citizens – easily find programs and practices that align to the ESSA evidence standards and meet their local needs.
What Works Clearinghouse
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) is an initiative of the Institute of Education Sciences, the independent, nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. The WWC provides educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a free, centralized source of scientific evidence on what works to improve student outcomes.
Using Evidence to Create Next Generation High Schools
This document from the U.S. Department of Education’s Next Generation High Schools: Redesigning the American High School Experience web page highlights six general evidence-based strategies to improve high schools: participation in rigorous curriculum, small learning communities/small schools of choice, career academies, dual enrollment, early college high schools, and college and career counseling. These strategies can be used to create Next Generation High Schools that improve important student outcomes, such as high school completion and readiness for college and career.
LCFF Priorities/Whole Child Resource Map
This map provides Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) priorities and whole child resources and supports to help local educational agencies, schools, and families serve the needs of the whole child.
California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE)
The CCEE offers personalized, immediate, and evidence-based support to county offices of education, school districts, and charter schools in order to improve learning for all students. In addition to their personalized services, they conduct trainings and archive the training materials in their Resource Collection .
California’s System of Support
This web page provides the CDE’s overview of California’s system of support and how it helps LEAs and their schools meet the needs of each student they serve, with a focus on building local capacity to sustain improvement and to effectively address disparities in opportunities and outcomes.
Local Control Funding Formula
The Local Agency Systems Support Office (LASSO) at the CDE is responsible for supporting districts in understanding the program planning and accountability requirements of the LCFF, including the development and implementation of the LCAP. LASSO’s Local Control Funding Formula web page provides an overview of LCFF and its components, information about support and assistance, and links to related resources.
Support for Rapid School Improvement: How Federal Dollars Can Be Leveraged for Systematic Improvement (PDF)
Part of the Four Domains Series: this guide focuses on spending at the district and school levels and delves into often-overlooked federal funding sources that can be used to support local efforts to pursue rapid improvement.
Thought Leadership Forum Brief: Braiding Federal Funds Under ESSA (PDF)
“Braiding funds” means using multiple funding sources in coordination to support an initiative, in contrast to pooling, blending, or consolidating funds. Federal grants can often support a wider range of activities than is commonly known. This brief provides recommendations for braiding federal funds to support improvement efforts and a list of key resources.
Anatomy of a Priority-Driven Budget
Priority-driven budgeting is a structured, but flexible process for budgeting scarce resources based on an organization’s most important strategic priorities. Resources are allocated according to how effectively a program or service achieves the goals and objectives that are of greatest value to the community. This paper describes the major steps in the process and then outlines options for putting those steps into operation.
Principal Leadership Professional Learning Module
The Coaching and Developing Turnaround Leaders Module from the Center on School Turnaround at WestEd includes a facilitator guide with handouts, PowerPoint presentation, and leadership plan. The module’s goals are to develop an understanding of the connection between turnaround leader competencies and the actions of successful turnaround leaders and to learn strategies for coaching and developing turnaround leaders.
Identifying, Selecting, and Retaining School Improvement leaders: How-to Modules
These how-to modules developed by a partnership between The Center on School Turnaround at WestEd, the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, Public Impact, and the University of Virginia Darden/Curry Partnership can assist LEAs in recruiting, selecting, developing, and retaining school improvement leaders. The modules include facilitator guides with handouts and PowerPoint presentations.
CDE Family Engagement Toolkit (PDF; 2MB)
This resource provides practical planning and evaluation tools that support efforts to engage all families, particularly those of underrepresented and underserved students. Related resources include Editable Templates (DOC) of the 10 tools introduced in the Toolkit.
Authentic LCAP Engagement Toolkit
This toolkit from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence includes videos, presentations, handouts, and a Data Equity Walks Toolkit to facilitate understanding the importance of defining “authentic engagement” before in-person, site engagement takes place. Learn how to communicate to engage, versus communicate to inform, and explore practices and strategies that can lead to more meaningful site engagement.
The Engagement Playbook: A Toolkit for Engaging Stakeholders Around the Four Domains of Rapid School Improvement (PDF; 1MB)
Part of the Four Domains Series: this toolkit focuses on capacity and efforts to engage stakeholders across the system to support rapid improvement and is intended to support districts, schools, and stakeholders to improve student outcomes in schools.
Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA: Issue 1: A Handbook for LEA and School Leaders
School and district leaders can use this handbook from CCSSO as a source of strategies to consider as they build their comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy.
Meaningful Engagement Under ESSA: Issue 2: A Handbook for Local Leaders on School Improvement
School and district leaders can use this handbook to learn more about the opportunities available to them under the ESSA, and as a source of strategies to consider as they build their local improvement plans.
LCFF Resources Priority 3 Family Involvement
This link from the LCFF Priorities/Whole Child Resource Map contains Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) resources for this priority that include Family Engagement in decision-making and promotion of family participation in the education process for all students, including students with disabilities.