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Faculty-Study Groups, Formative and Summative Assessment, Priority Agenda, Culture of Accountability
This article focuses on effective professional interactions of teachers and administrators as faculty-study groups in school improvement practices and educational reform to improve instruction and learning. The emphasis on practical approach promises to create conditions for continuous systemic change and academic improvement. The author incorporated current knowledge of effective practices and innovative strategies into the faculty-study groups to improve teaching, learning, collaboration, and meet high academic standards. In faculty-study groups, research-based best practices for teaching excellence and learning, in addition to continuous focus on effective collaborative group efforts on “data use” in the decision making process for school improvement are shared among members and colleagues. Working together allows faculty-study groups to examine formative and summative students’ data reports and to determine priority agenda goals. Coming together as a focused study group, faculty members collaboratively identify students that are at risk of meeting standards on state assessment tests. The study groups seek ways to implement appropriate intervention strategies or accommodations in their plan to meet the individual needs of students. Not only these, faculty-study groups are able to prepare, revise and/or establish new goals for the school improvement plan and develop an implementation and evaluation rubric for the plan. Moreover, the groups assist the school improvement leadership team to promote school improvement practices throughout the school. Creating a culture of accountability, showcasing success stories, providing a monthly update to the School Improvement Leadership Team (SILT), and evaluating the faculty improvement plan on the goals set forth, is another role performed by the faculty-study group. This article offers several views on how the responsibilities of faculty-study groups are identified and implemented in two middle school environments in a large school district on the east coast of the United States of America. A survey distributed to thirty-two participating members of each group provides insight on how the study groups feel about their role in school improvement. The expected outcomes of the faculty-study group are to improve the skills and practices of all faculty members, continuous participation in professional development efforts, and show how study groups can make a positive impact on school improvement and student achievement.