In the following report, Hanover Research examines the strategic planning practices of K‐ 12 public school districts. Specifically, the report focuses on mechanisms that districts use to monitor the implementation of strategic plans and includes profiles of seven school districts that have strategic plans with strong accountability measures.
As accountability in public education is increasingly important, public school districts must work to achieve specific performance goals. 1 District leaders must set goals and define strategies that lead to improvement and must have mechanisms in place to monitor progress toward goals. In this report, Hanover Research examines the strategic planning practices of K‐12 public school districts. Specifically, the report focuses on districts’ strategies for improvement and mechanisms for monitoring progress.The report is structured in two sections:
- Section I: Literature Review examines literature on strategic planning in K‐12 school districts, emphasizing best practices in defining strategic goals and monitoring implementation.
- Section II: District Profiles provides profiles of seven school districts with exemplary strategic planning goals and measurement processes. The following districts are profiled in Section II:
- San Francisco Unified School District
- Long Beach Unified School District
- Chandler Unified School District
- Sacramento City Unified School District
- Pinellas County Schools
- Pasadena Independent School District
- San Mateo City School District
- Many school districts have strategic plans that include broad goals, a series of objectives to accomplish goals, and quantitative and qualitative measures of progress. For example, San Francisco USD sets performance goals with quantitative baseline and target metrics for school each year. Similarly, Chandler USD specifies annual performance metrics and assigns itself a score of one through four based on its performance in achieving each goal.
- School districts typically include measurements of progress in strategic plans, including descriptions of the systems and structures they will use to evaluate progress toward their goals. The measure of progress often depends on the type of goal. For example, to evaluate objectives related to equity, districts may consider demographic statistics or student and community surveys. To track progress toward student achievement objectives, districts may consider state assessment score benchmarks. Districts commonly assign a “due date” and designate an employee to oversee the implementation of each goal.
- Common themes that districts include in their long term improvement strategies include student achievement, equity and access, staff quality and satisfaction, parent and community engagement, and resource management. San Mateo‐Foster City School District in California, for example, provides detailed strategies and objectives for the themes of student achievement, fiscal operations, student social responsibility, personnel retention, communications and outreach, facilities, and infrastructure. Other districts such as Sacramento City USD focus on improving academic achievement and family engagement.
- The school districts included in this report use different structures for defining goals, objectives, and measures in a strategic plan. For example, San Francisco USD has three major goals (Access and Equity, Student Achievement, and Accountability) with several objectives as well as a District Scorecard and evaluation form with performance indicators. In contrast, Pasadena Independent School District lists seven strategic goals and action plans to accomplish each goal, but does not use quantitative performance metrics.
- To fuel continuous improvement in a school district, the organization Partners in School Innovation recommends that districts consider the process of planning, implementing goals, and assessing progress to be cyclical. The Results‐ Oriented Cycle of Inquiry (ROCI) model encourages districts to implement solutions, diagnose shortfalls, and continuously monitor progress.