Great Lakes West
The Center on Innovation & Improvement (CII) at the Academic Development Institute (ADI) in Lincoln, Illinois, developed a system for improving learning. It’s called Indistar, a Web-based tool for use with district and school improvement teams to inform, coach, sustain, track, and report improvement activities.
The essence of Indistar provides a structure for improving performance, built on using indicators of effective practice and aligned to research and evidence of what works in school improvement. The indicators are specific and user friendly. They support a continuous improvement cycle of assessing where you are, setting data-driven goals, objectives, and activities, implementing a plan, monitoring impact, and making revisions as needed.
In 2007, the Virginia Department of Education (VDE) was the first to adopt Indistar, providing 30 districts in conditional accreditation and/or schools in restructuring status with a continuous improvement process driven by research-based indicators of effective practice. Throughout a two-year period, 27 schools demonstrated remarkable gains in reading and mathematics.
Currently, nine additional states—Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Vermont—and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) have adopted Indistar. By the end of this school year (2009–10), more than 4,000 schools in 10 states will be using Indistar as their continuous improvement process for district and school improvement.
A key highlight for the Indistar states was the summit held on September 2–3, 2010. CII Director Sam Redding, Ed.D., and his staff hosted their first Indistar summit in Lincoln, Illinois. The two-day summit was a huge success, with all Indistar states in one room networking, learning new features, sharing experiences, and recommending ideas for enhancement. The center introduced the Coaching for School Improvement Guide, currently in development.
One instructional leader said, “The greatest thing about this tool is that, once it is completed, it will be the school improvement plan! It is a living, breathing document that can be easily assessed, monitored, and adjusted.”
A coach had this to say: “Several of my schools are using the indicators to evaluate implementation of effective practices. Several principals have created rubrics to identify the frequency with which a teacher is implementing the indicator—always, frequently, seldom, never. The results of this survey are used by the school planning teams for discussion in grade level and content committee meetings and for planning future staff development.”
Dr. Redding put it best: “The magic of Indistar lies not in its technology but in the assistance it provides for a district or school team to efficiently drive improvement. Indistar is a tool for people working in teams.”
I would encourage anyone interested in improving student performance for all students to visit the website at www.indistar.org to learn more about Indistar.