Collaborative School Improvement

Collaborative School Improvement Eight Practices for District-School Partnerships to Transform Teaching and Learning

Trent E. Kaufman, Emily Dolci Grimm, and Allison E. Miller, foreword by Kathryn Parker Boudett
Pub. Date: March 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-262-5
paper, 208 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-129-1
Price: $32.00

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How can districts bring instructional improvement to scale within and across schools?

The authors of Collaborative School Improvement argue that districts can play a powerful part in helping schools build the capacity to engage in inquiry-based reform—but that this effort requires a shift in districts’ traditional role as a professional development provider.


For educators and administrators suffering under the weight of initiative fatigue, this book offers welcome relief. CSI is not about adopting the latest educational fad but rather about a focus on evidence, teaching, and leadership. The authors offer authentic examples from a wide variety of schools and bring the combined perspectives of practitioners and researchers to this complex challenge. This profoundly respectful book acknowledges that the vast majority of teachers and administrators want to get it right. The practices outlined here will focus your professional energies where they will have the greatest impact on student results. — Douglas B. Reeves, founder, The Leadership and Learning Center

This book is unique in its focus both on the district’s role in supporting data-based inquiry and on using the inquiry process to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom. — Jennifer Cheatham, chief instruction officer, Chicago Public Schools

At the core of Collaborative School Improvement is a set of well-defined but flexible practices that marry data inquiry cycles with effective teamwork. With nuanced insights and attention to detail, the authors tell the compelling story of how educators can create scalable systems of instructional improvement. This is an important book that should interest not only educators, but those who craft education policy. — Joe Siedlecki, program and policy officer, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

As with the best of protocols, CSI helps school and district leaders develop habits they wish they had. It offers practical advice and tools well grounded in research and practice. CSI makes it clear that improvement is within the grasp of committed teams. — Alan Dichter, director of leadership development, Portland Public Schools

This book contributes to our collective knowledge by offering a clear and field-tested set of practices for how schools and districts can structure their relationship to best serve student learning. I feel a kinship with the authors of this book because, as with Data Wise, they offer not a program to implement, but a paradigm shift in how educators approach their work. And, as we did with Data Wise, they offer a guide to making it happen. — From the foreword by Kathryn Parker Boudett, lecturer on education and director of the Data Wise Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education

This book contributes to our collective knowledge by offering a clear and field-tested set of practices for how schools and districts can structure their relationship to best serve student learning. — Kathryn Parker Boudett, Ed Direction

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About the Authors

Dr. Trent E. Kaufman is the founder and president of Education Direction, a school reform research and consultancy firm. Education Direction serves large public school districts and private organizations seeking to improve teaching and learning. Prior to founding Education Direction, Trent served as a teacher, department chair, technology coordinator, athletics coach, dean of students, assistant principal, and principal in Northern California. He also previously served as a research and teaching fellow for the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a summer fellow for Industry Initiatives in Science and Math Education, a national faculty member for High School Futures, and an analyst for Education Resource Strategies.

Trent earned his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in education policy, leadership, and instructional practice. His doctoral research included an analysis of the use of the Balanced Scorecard and other performance management systems as tools for school reform. He earned his master’s degree in education leadership from the University of California at Berkeley. Trent has served as a teaching fellow for the Data Wise weeklong summer institute as well as the yearlong Harvard Data Wise course, is a chapter author of Data Wise in Action (Harvard Education Press), and has coauthored a chapter on data-driven decision making in the Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (Springer; in press at time of publication). He has presented at dozens of conferences, including ASCD’s annual conference, Learning Forward; the California League of Schools; the Virginia Council for the Social Studies; Brown University’s School Leadership Institute; Advanced Academics’ Online Learning Leadership Summit; and the California Charter School Association. Trent is a proud parent of five children, the “Cubmaster” in his boys’ Cub Scout pack, and an advisor to the Nike School Innovation Fund.

Emily Dolci Grimm has worked as a teacher in both traditional and alternative settings for a decade. She currently works as the Director of School Transformation at Education Direction. Prior to holding this position, Emily served as a teacher, coach, and Response to Intervention (RTI) team member at a high school in Maine. While there, she secured grant funding to create and implement the Girls’ Aspirations Program, an alternative education program to meet the needs of at-risk girls in the community.

Emily earned her bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and is currently working toward her master’s degree in school leadership from the University of Utah. She is a certified CASA volunteer (guardian ad litem) and an avid hiker and skier. She recently completed a five-month thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia and looks forward to someday hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with her husband.

Allison E. Miller currently serves as the Director of Professional Development at Education Direction. With over a decade of classroom teaching experience, she is passionate about education and literacy. Prior to working with Education Direction, Allison served in a variety of capacities at public and private schools in South Carolina and Georgia. She has worked as a classroom teacher and program director, as well as a private educational consultant for students with learning disabilities. In addition, Allison has written and implemented curricula for two visual arts programs. She is certified in art education, holds a license as a reading specialist, and is trained in both the Orton-Gillingham and Wilson teaching approaches.  

Allison earned her master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her focus of study was language and literacy, and a bachelor of arts in art education from Anderson University. She currently serves as an advisor to the Deseret News Reading Literacy Board. In addition, she is an active member of the Learning Disabilities Association and the International Reading Association. Allison enjoys hiking and biking in Park City, Utah, with her husband and two children.

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Table of Contents

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Improving School Board Effectiveness

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