The Bulletin

Division of School & District Effectiveness

June 2016

"Advancing leadership -- Transforming schools"

Purpose of the Bulletin

To provide regular, timely information to increase the shared understanding of our team of School & District Effectiveness professionals

SDE Theory of Action

If we build the capacity of leadership and of structured learning communities to develop and improve organizational systems, processes, and practices, then Georgia schools and districts will continuously improve

This Month

The Focus of our Work

As you will read in the article "From the Literature" below, a theory of action for an organization is the "fundamental beliefs about what will lead to long-term success." We can also say that it is a statement of how we move from the current state (the way things currently are) to the desired future (how we want them to look as a result of our work). They are most often "if/then" statements.

We have a working theory of action for SDE: If we build the capacity of leadership and of structured professional learning communities to develop and improve organizational systems, processes, and practices, then Georgia schools and districts will continuously improve. Please reflect on this statement.

Speaking of leadership capacity...

An expectation I have of folks in SDE is that we ALL think, plan, and behave as State Leaders. That's what we all are. I'd ask you to think of it this way..."If I were responsible for School Improvement across Georgia [which we all are, by the way], how would I approach a given situation, issue, question, etc."? Or another way..."If/when I take Will's job, what would I consider in a given situation, issue, question, etc.?" Please continue to do this kind of reflecting.

There are so many evidences of this kind of state-wide thinking going on. As one example, Karen Suddeth has thought long and hard, and done some really particular work, on creating a state SIG model. There are only five other states with a state SIG model. That's thinking and behaving as a State Leader.

Another example is the work being done to revise our monitoring process. Folks on the team doing that work are stepping back, letting go of any "ownership" they might have of a part of the current process ("the way things have always been done"), and thinking about monitoring from a state-wide perspective. They are considering the best way to re-create a comprehensive monitoring system that gets us state information that we need, a system that is very friendly and useful to school and district leaders, and a system that is economical to folks in the field so they have more time to do the improvement work rather than spending an inordinate amount of time and energy with monitoring.

A final example is work that Kali Raju is doing with Indistar. She attended an Indistar Pacesetter meeting in Illinois, where about seven states gathered to advise about Indistar and to plan for improvements. Kali has taken what she got from the meeting and has created a plan for us to improve Indistar for our customers (schools and districts) and for folks in the field. She is thinking and acting as a State Leader.

These are just a few of the many examples I am seeing of folks in SDE thinking, planning, and acting as State Leaders. It's the kind of thinking and acting that will yield much, much fruit in our schools, districts, and in SDE!

P.S. Three helpful CCRPI links/resources:

From the Areas/Regions

Phillip Luck, North

Sam Taylor, Metro

Patty Rooks, South

The Monitoring System for the 2016-17 School Year

We have implemented a system of monitoring in order to provide schools and districts regular feedback on their progress in moving toward the operational level of performance on the spotlight standards identified and the non-negotiable elements of the 12 key standards. Through this system, districts and SDE have monitored each of the priority schools a total of four times over the course of the year—twice by the districts and twice by the Leads. Along with the LEA and SDE monitoring, some schools have also received a GSAPS review this year. In reflection, in order to provide a more efficient and effective system of monitoring for our schools, consideration is being given to streamlining the system and processes for the 2016-17 school-year.

As a result, the Strategic Planning Committee will convene to refine the monitoring system for our Priority schools. Considerations for streamlining and refining the monitoring system will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Number and timing of SEA/LEA monitoring

  • Required SEA/LEA monitoring participants

  • SEA and LEA monitoring processes

  • Role of the SESs in the monitoring process

  • GSAPS process

Our Leads and DESs have met and provided their feedback regarding the SEA/LEA monitoring processes. The Strategic Planning Committee will use this information in the refinement of the system for the 2016-17 school-year. It is our intent to have this work completed by July 1st.


Congratulations to Wendell Christian and Nancy Starr. They will be retiring from the Department of Education on June 30, 2016. A special Congratulations is also in order for Dr. Barbara Lunsford, who will be retiring from the GaDOE as well. Dr. Lunsford’s last day with us will be May 31, 2016.

Dr. Brooke Ricketts will become Dr. Brooke Stembridge on Saturday, May 28th. We are very excited about her upcoming nuptials! Congratulations, Brooke!

From the Atlanta Support Office

Professional Learning Support

Christy Jones & Andrea Cruz


Please mark your calendars and plan to attend our July SDE PL. It will be held at the Macon Marriott on July 20th and 21st. We will begin at 9:30am on July 20th. Tentative topics include: School Improvement Planning Tools, QCIS Reporting, and "What does quality instruction look like?"

McREL Balanced Leadership Training

During our May Balanced Leadership training sessions, we spent a fair amount of time discussing Collective Efficacy. Our McREL consultant, Tony Davis, discussed the difference between Purposeful Communities and Professional Learning Communities. One major difference is that Purposeful Communities include the element of collective efficacy. Listed below is an article that discusses the profound impact collective efficacy can have on a situation.

Professional Learning Tidbit

Empowering teachers with collective efficacy

In 1999, I embarked on my first year of teaching, eagerly anticipating leading my own classroom and filled with much hope, promise, and possibility. However, as my initial year unfolded, it turned out to be a no good, terrible, very bad year (so disappointing that I even wrote an editorial about it for the Denver Post). I consider myself a very positive person—a team player—so this experience was as much a surprise to me as anyone else. What changed my hope to despair and, eventually, my profession from teacher to education consultant?

In thinking about all the subsequent years I spent teaching—some great, some tough, and some just-okay—I remember one significant moment. One morning, as we greeted students on the first day of school—the same year that I was elected to serve as the language arts department chair of a low-performing suburban middle school—my principal advised me that if test scores didn’t go up, the blame would fall squarely on my shoulders. In that moment, I realized that there was no “team.” As an individual teacher, I felt inadequate to carry that load alone; worse, I worried that remaining a teacher might cost me more than I was willing or able to give.

While I always had at least one supportive colleague within my grade level or department, a whole school, we-can-do-this-together vibe was missing from the schools where I taught. Typical divisions between primary and intermediate grades were evident and “that’s not my content area” conflicts sprang up regularly. When it came down to school-wide, collective will and effort to effect change, it always fell short because teachers were working in relative isolation, with heavy loads to bear.

Not wanting to coast on fumes and become the teacher counting the years to retirement, I divorced the job I wanted to do my whole life. But, with my hope and determination to make a difference in education still intact, I searched for a way to change the system. I landed at McREL, an organization whose motto is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This ideal resonated with me, feeding my desire to build a better system in which “change” meant better schools, better teaching, and better learning. I finally hit upon what I had been dancing at the edges of for years, collective efficacy.

In early 2012, as part of a federal grant called the North Central Comprehensive Center (NCCC) program, McREL began working with the South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) to implement a strategy that supported South Dakota’s Priority and Focus Schools, as part of its Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waiver. We used a customized version of Indistar®, a web-based continuous improvement planning tool, to develop the South Dakota Leading Effectively, Achieving Progress (SD LEAP) tool. Built on the principle that the people closest to students should be the ones determining the path to improvement, SD LEAP was designed to help South Dakota schools establish leadership teams to guide their continuous improvement processes.

Later that year, we hit the rural roads of South Dakota, training educators on the new tool and informing them that SD LEAP and school leadership teams were an effective, support-based way to lead school improvement, not compliance-driven. While many were willing to give it a try, just as many thought this was yet another swing of the pendulum; if they waited long enough, it would quietly die like so many past reforms.

In April 2014, a small team of McREL and SD DOE staff traveled more than 900 miles across the state to capture, in video, the success stories of five schools using the SD LEAP system. As we sat down with teachers and leaders at each of the schools, we heard responses like, “I felt empowered,” and, “It wasn’t just me doing it, it was all of us.” One teacher, who had been mulling retirement, shared her renewed sense of excitement about the work her team was doing, and had chosen not to retire. That really resonated with me. Teachers were now eager to review data and discuss individual kids, especially the ones who were hardest to reach. A palpable sense of collective commitment and relief emanated from each frame of the video, telling me we were on to something. As I watched the interviews, two words—collective efficacy—hit me like a ton of bricks.

What does collective efficacy have to do with my terrible, no good, very bad first year of teaching? Working with educators across the country over the past six years has convinced me that, while there will always be a need for professional development in the areas of leadership, instruction, curriculum, and assessment, what schools really need to effect change is a partner to help them maximize all the great resources, staff, and ideas they already have—a partner to share the load and help build collective efficacy.

As a teacher, I never felt we lacked the “right stuff” in terms of resources or professional development for staff. Deep down, I felt unable—as an individual teacher—to make broad, sweeping, systemic changes. What was really missing was a collective will and belief that we all needed to move in the same direction, systemically changing our instruction and culture to increase student achievement for each and every kid. As I listened to teachers share their experiences in the SD LEAP video, I realized that they felt like they were, indeed, enough. Because, as a group, they were much more than enough.

Don’t take my word for it—spend a few minutes watching our video, “South Dakota LEAP – Leading Effectively, Achieving Progress,” or exploring the NCCC website.


Principal-to-Principal Webinar Series

Thank you to everyone for encouraging Principals in your schools to attend the Principal-to-Principal Webinar Series. The recording and supporting documents are located on the right-hand side of the SDE Professional Learning webpage. Please share this with any of your schools and districts who might benefit. The schedule of the last upcoming date and topic is below.

June 8, 2016

10:00 A.M.

Summer Planning: How do effective principals use their summers to prepare for the upcoming school year?

Operational Support

Cindy Popp, Region Resources

IT Updates Webinars

IT Updates Webinar, Friday, June 3, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

  • The IT Updates Webinar schedule for the summer is as follows:

    • Friday, June 3

    • Friday, July 8

    • Friday, August 12

    • Friday, September 9

  • All webinars are 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM. Each webinar will address security, SESI highlights, Microsoft and Internet usage and shortcuts, and topics from you. Please continue to send your suggestions. I hope you can join us!

Microsoft IT Academy Training for SDE Staff

Tuesday, July 19, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

I will have a face-to-face session on the Microsoft IT Academy at the Macon Marriott the afternoon before our SDE PL. I will send the registration in the near future. Space is limited to 12 attendees. No previous Microsoft IT Academy course experience necessary. We will work on the following courses:

  • Microsoft Excel 2013 Essentials

  • Microsoft Outlook 2013 Essentials

  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 Essentials

  • Microsoft Word 2013 Essentials


  • Please continue to send me screen shots of emails you think might be spam so that I assist you with determining whether they are valid and so I can use them as examples for the IT Updates Webinars.

  • If you think an email is spam, please do not forward the email, click on the external links or open the documents before verifying it’s a valid email.

    ***I participated in two IT security webinars this past month and attended an IT security conference. One startling tidbit I heard was that over 90% of businesses admitted a security incident. Please read emails your carefully and think before you click. It’s critical that we use our equipment as safely as possible. If it looks and smells “phishy,” it just might be.

Meetings Registration and Lodging

  • Please remember to register for our meetings and make lodging reservations by the deadlines we provide so that we can ensure accurate attendance and lodging numbers. We have to pay the facility based on registration and number of people who lodge at the hotel so your timely cooperation is greatly appreciated.


Gary Wenzel, Operations

Award of Grants: The Title I, Part A, Section 1003(a) grants are awarded for the 2015 – 2016 school year. The expectation is that you use all funds awarded this year during this school year and summer 2016. All funds must be expended no later than September 30, 2016. There is no carryover of the FY16 funds.

All 1003 (a) budgets have been developed by the school principal, the school leadership team, and the School Effectiveness Specialist (GaDOE SES with Priority Schools, RESA SES with Focus Schools), and imported by the district Title I Director into the Consolidated Application for approval, with the school Justification of Expenses signed by the principal and SES attached in the Consolidated Application. All FY16 1003 (a) budgets have been approved, and drawdowns are being made as purchasing orders are filled and goods and services are received by the schools.

The summer months are a good time for district Title I Directors to review the school budgets, talk with their finance director about making draw downs, and contact schools to determine any changes that may be needed, and make amendments to the budget in the Consolidated Application.

Look for FY17 Title I Part A 1003 (a) School Improvement funding to possibly be approved by the State School Board as early as the August 18, 2016 board meeting. On the GaDOE website, about a week prior to the board meeting, under State Board & Policy check the eBoard for the board meeting minutes to see if the School Improvement 1003 (a) funding is listed.

Federal Support

Karen Suddeth and Melvina Crawl- SIG/1003(g)

Cohort 3 (July 1, 2013-September 30, 2016)

Bibb County

Matilda Hartley Elementary School

Westside High School

Fulton County

Frank McClarin High School

Gwinnett County

Meadowcreek High School

Quitman County

Quitman County High School

Twiggs County

Twiggs County High School

Wilkinson County

Wilkinson County High School

Cohort 4 (July 1, 2014-September 30, 2017)

Atlanta Public Schools

Frederick Douglass High School

Bibb County

Southwest Magnet High School and Law Academy

Dougherty County

Dougherty County Comprehensive High School

Monroe Comprehensive High School

Muscogee County

Fox Elementary School

Jordan Vocational High School

William H. Spencer High School

Fiscal Reminders


Please be reminded that the monthly deadline for drawdowns is the 20th of each month, and the expectation is that drawdowns be taken monthly. The drawdown is to include all SIG expenditures from the previous month. Both the LEA and the SEA monitoring should reflect the level to which these expectations have been met. It is important to note that the timeliness of drawdowns is a critical factor when considering the recommendation for continued funding. The goal for FY16 was to drawdown at least 70% by May 20th.

The Grants Accounting Division will begin to closeout FY16, therefore next month’s drawdown request must be submitted by Monday, June 20th at 3:00 pm. Furthermore, drawdown requests after June 20th will not be processed by Grants Accounting until July 21st with a July 28th pay date.

Expenditure of FY16 Funds

For those SIG schools that did not meet the May 20th deadline for 70% drawdown of the budget, an Expenditure Plan for the remainder of the FY16 funds will be required. The plan must include a narrative for expending the remaining funds, as well as a budget and financial timeline. The plan will be due to Melvina Crawl and Karen Suddeth no later than June 3, 2016. All FY16 grant expenditures must be encumbered by September 30, 2016 and paid by October 31, 2016.

An email will be sent to the districts explaining the Expenditure Plan requirements. The district must obtain signatures from the Superintendent (not a designee), Principal and SIG Coordinator/Administrator attesting to the plan for expending the remaining FY16 SIG funds.

SIG Program/Budget Amendments

Changes to the SIG budget and/or program require an approved SIG program/budget amendment. Please note, the final date for the submission of amendments for the FY16 budget is August 5, 2016.

FY16 SIG 1003(g) Budget

To help the SIG 1003(g) schools prepare for a successful 2017 school-year, a budget template and instructions will be emailed to the SIG Coordinators on June 1st. The budget template is comprised of two sections, a proposed budget section and an amended budget section. The proposed budget that was submitted in the application for the grant will be inserted in the blue highlighted section of the template. Any changes made to the original budget will be placed in the template’s orange highlighted section, along with the amended language and rationale. The budget template must be submitted to Melvina Crawl and Karen Suddeth by June 30th.

Please note, if there are no changes to the original budget submitted in the grant application, then the FY17 budget may be directly loaded to the Consolidated Application in July. The Division would like to have all FY17 budgets, including sustainability budgets, uploaded and approved in the Consolidated Application by August 16th.

Leading and Lagging Indicators Report

The Leading and Lagging Indicators Report is now open in Indistar to complete the metrics for this year’s data. The report is to be submitted no later than September 30, 2016. This will allow adequate time to finalize the 2016-17 ILT plan necessary for the completion of Metric #5-Number of Minutes and Types of Increased Learning Time. So as to prevent early submission of an incomplete Report, between now and August 1st, the report can only be saved. The “Submit” button will appear August 1st and the Report will remain open through September 30th, 2016 for submission.

The September 30th submission requirements are as follows:

Cohort 3

Metric 5—Preliminary Data, Year 1 Data, Year 2 Data, Year 3 Data, Year 4 (Projected)

Metrics 13, 17, 18—Preliminary Data, Year 1 Data, Year 2 Data, Year 3 Data

Cohort 4

Metric 5—Preliminary Data, Year 1 Data, Year 2 Data, Year 3 Data (Projected)

Metrics 13, 17, 18—Preliminary Data, Year 1 Data, Year 2 Data


Institute I of Sustainability Training will be provided to Cohort 4 this summer following Year 2 of the implementation of the grant, and Institute II will be provided during the winter of Year 3 of the grant. Participants will be designated LEA and school leaders as well as SDE staff. The tentative schedule for Cohort 4 is listed below:

Cohort 4 Sustainability Training Schedule (Tentative):

• Institute I (1½ days) August 30th & 31st, 2016

• Institute II (1½ days) March 2nd & 3rd, 2017

Sustainability Applications were submitted by Cohort 3 schools in May. The review of the applications and recommendations for SBOE approval will be announced in June. Recommendation for award of Cohort 3 Year 4 Sustainability funding will go to the SBOE in July. Once the recommendations are approved, award notifications for Cohort 3 sustainability funds will be sent to districts. Budgets for sustainability should be uploaded by August 16th.

Cohort 4 2016-2017 Funding Award Recommendations

Recommendation for award of Cohort 4 Year 3 funding will go to the SBOE in July. Recommendation for funding is based upon the results of the programmatic and fiscal monitoring, as well as available academic achievement data.

Critical Dates for 1003(g) SIG Schools

June 1st: Webinar – Cohort 3 schools Close Out Procedures

June 3rd: Expenditure Plan due for schools with drawdowns less than 70% as of May 20th

June 30th: Budget Templates Due for FY17

July 14th: Cohort 3 Year 4 Sustainability Award and Cohort 4 Year 3 Award recommendations to SBOE

July 15th: Notification of Awards to Cohort 3 and Cohort 4 LEAs

July 19th: SIG Budget Workshop – Cohort 3 and Cohort 4

August 5th: Deadline for final FY16 SIG Program/Budget Amendments

August 16th: Deadline for FY17 budget to be uploaded and approved in the Consolidated Application

Strategic Planning 101

In this District Management Journal article, John J-H Kim and Kriti Parashar describe the strategic planning process they have developed working with numerous school districts:

  • Mission and vision – Long-term district aspirations;

  • Theory of action – Fundamental beliefs about what will lead to long-term success;

  • Priorities – Broad areas of focus to support the theory of action;

  • Measurable goals – Specific and measurable targets related to district priorities;

  • Initiatives – Projects related to priorities to achieve the measurable goals;

  • Action steps – An articulation of what steps need to occur, by when, and by whom.

Kim and Parashar conclude with ten mistakes to avoid in the strategic planning process:

  • Don’t draft a plan that skims the surface: address the root causes by asking Why five times to get at the underlying issues.
  • Don’t shortchange developing a cogent theory of action. “The strongest theories of action are focused, easily understood by virtually all district stakeholders, and guide critical tasks and workflows, organizational arrangement, and culture in the district,” say the authors.

  • Don’t treat every idea as a good idea; develop a list of fewer than five high-impact priorities. “Manage expectations that not all ideas may find their place in the final plan,” say Kim and Parashar.

  • Don’t forget to include specific, measurable action plans. This includes the roles and responsibilities of school and central staff, key milestones, and necessary budget shifts.

  • Don’t forget to include many parts of the organization, not just academics. Although student achievement is the ultimate outcome, other departments such as finance, human resources, and operations play key roles.

  • Don’t just engage in open-ended discussions with stakeholders about their concerns and hopes. Elicit specific, actionable feedback on a draft of the strategic plan.

  • Don’t forget to include lagging (output-oriented) as well as leading (input-oriented) metrics to track progress.

  • Don’t just layer new initiatives on top of existing ones. “Seek to leverage and build upon the work being done in the district and create a coherent and aligned approach to moving the work forward,” say the authors.

  • Don’t forget to establish clear implementation and monitoring processes. “Effective implementation requires detailed planning and communication, cultivation of leadership capacity, and the analytics to monitor progress,” conclude Kim and Parashar. “The implementation plan and monitoring process must also be tailored to the district’s strengths, weaknesses, and available resources.”

“Strategic Planning for Today’s Challenges” by John J-H Kim and Kriti Parashar in The District Management Journal, Spring 2016 (Vol. 19, p. 12-27),

Upcoming Meetings & Events

McREL Balanced Leadership Training

Tuesday, June 7th, 9am to Thursday, June 9th, 4pm

Decatur Courtyard Marriott

This event is for select GaDOE and RESA staff.

Principal-to-Principal Webinar Series

Wednesday, June 8th, 10am

This is an online event.

Your GaDOE SDE State Leadership Team

North Area

Area Program Manager- Phillip Luck

Area Program Assessment Specialist- Wendell Christian

Northwest Region:

District Effectiveness Specialist- Terri Gaspierik

Lead School Effectiveness Specialist- Amy Alderman

Northeast Region:

District Effectiveness Specialist- Martha Jo Johnson

Lead School Effectiveness Specialist- Kali Raju

Metro Area

Area Program Manager- Sam Taylor

Area Program Assessment Specialist- Mike O'Neal

Metro West Region:

District Effectiveness Specialist- Diana Forbes

Lead School Effectiveness Specialist- Lyn Wenzel

Metro East Region:

District Effectiveness Specialist- Iris Moran

Lead School Effectiveness Specialist- Paula Herrema

South Area

Area Program Manager- Patty Rooks

Area Program Assessment Specialist- Keith Barnett

Southwest Region:

District Effectiveness Specialist- Deborah McLendon

Lead School Effectiveness Specialist- Steve Olive

Southeast Region:

District Effectiveness Specialist- Darrel May

Lead School Effectiveness Specialist- Paula Cleckler

Atlanta Support Office

Program Manager- Joann Hooper

Director- Will Rumbaugh