What is the Network?
The Network of Performance Based Schools is a voluntary action research community designed to improve student learning and to strengthen public education. Network schools represent the diversity of public education in BC with small remote rural schools, large urban secondary schools, schools serving vulnerable populations, and schools in affluent communities all being part of this learning community.
Network schools use teacher developed and validated classroom based performance standards in reading, writing, numeracy, and social responsibility.
Schools in the Network share a number of common characteristics and commitments:
- Teamwork – a willingness to work in their own school as teacher-principal teams on behalf of their learners and families
- Interdependence – a willingness to work with and on behalf of all interested schools in BC.
- Inquiry – an interest in developing and collectively pursuing significant learning improvement questions in depth and over time
- Assessment – a belief in the central importance of individual and classroom assessment evidence as a powerful change force
- Public Communication – an acted upon belief in telling change stories honestly with both qualitative and quantitative evidence sources
- Depth of Thinking – a commitment to going deeper by asking themselves increasingly challenging questions about practice
- Sustained Thinking – an understanding that realizing genuine learning gains requires time, focused work, reflection, and on-going commitment
- Connecting Ideas– pursuing over time and changing circumstances, connections among literacy, mathematical problem solving, citizenship and other areas of disciplined thought
- Metacognition – using knowledge about learning to strengthen thinking
- Use of Evidence – a commitment to using clear evidence patterns to illustrate and describe improvement
The following concepts inform the design of the Network:
There is a difference in approaching school improvement with a spirit of inquiry rather than through the adoption of a specific program or strategy. There is also a difference between setting a goal and developing a question. We believe that the thinking involved in identifying a powerful improvement question creates curiosity and builds commitment in learners of all ages. Active, focused inquiry drives improved learning gains for all learners.
Assessment For and As Learning
BC educators have access to some of the best classroom assessment materials in the world. The BC performance standards, developed over many years by teams of teachers and principals, linked to important learning outcomes, and field tested in countless and varied classrooms provide educators, students, and parents with invaluable information. Teams of educators in Network schools make the commitment to use the BC performance standards to help determine areas of strength and areas requiring focused instruction, (assessment for learning) and also to help learners take more control of their own learning (assessment as learning). Active inquiry using thoughtful consistent classroom measures allows for dialogue about improvement across the schools of the province.
Increasingly leadership is more defined by contribution than by formal role. Decreasing the isolation of classrooms, schools and districts is a feature of the Network. Connecting people, ideas, and resources across roles is central to this work.
The improvement work of Network schools must be sustained over time if learners are to be genuinely helped. The work needs to be invitational, important, and engaging. We want to make sure that the strategies introduced (1) build on existing resources, (2) build future capacities, and (3) are connected to and supportive of other improvement initiatives.
There is substantial evidence that Canadians believe in the importance of a strong public education system. Communities gain confidence in the quality of their public schools when they are served by local schools that demonstrate a commitment to honest communication of improving results. A strong sense of school identity also plays an important role in building community confidence.
What Do Network Schools Do?
School teams of teachers and principals develop a question that becomes the focus for their school improvement work on an annual basis and commit to:
- Collect baseline data
- Work over the course of the year on their key question
- Assess students using the BC performance standards
- Attend three meetings annually, and display their findings at a year end celebration of learning
- Write a 2 page report of their inquiry work including suggestions for other schools. Schools reports form the basis for the annual publication “Case Studies and Findings from the Network of Performance Based Schools.”
Resource Materials and Support
Network leaders, Dr. Linda Kaser and Dr. Judy Halbert, provide resource materials, coaching to regions, districts, and schools, publish the school reports, and maintain the communication links among schools. Network facilitators across the province coordinate meeting times and provide support on a regional and local basis.
Dr. Linda Kaser is a school improvement coach, district and provincial educational leader and co-leader of the Network of Performance Based Schools.
- extensive experience in elementary and secondary educational improvement
- worked as a faculty associate with three universities
- an appointment as an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia
Linda’s doctoral study focused on teacher-student-parent community strategies to lift student achievement. Her publications focus on literacy, leadership , critical thinking, and inquiry-based school and district improvement.
Linda has worked at the provincial level providing leadership in Curriculum, Student Achievement, Rural Education, and School Improvement.
Dr. Judy Halbert is a school improvement coach, district and provincial educational leader and co-leader of the Network of Performance Based Schools.
- extensive experience in educational improvement at the school, district and provincial level
- worked as an advisor and lecturer at three universities
Judy’s doctoral study focused on the development needs of new principals. Her publications focus on inquiry-based school and district improvement, accountability, and leadership.
Judy recently worked at the provincial level to develop the provincial framework for accountability and school and district improvement and to provide leadership in Aboriginal education.