NEASC‎ > ‎

Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations



Overview:

Effective schools identify core values and beliefs about learning that function as explicit foundational commitments to students and the community. Decision-making remains focused on and aligned with these critical commitments. Core values and beliefs manifest themselves in research-based, school-wide 21st century learning expectations. Every component of the school is driven by the core values and beliefs and supports all students’ achievement of the school’s learning expectations.  

Indicators:

Indicator 1:  The school community engages in a dynamic, collaborative and inclusive process informed by current research-based best practices to identify and commit to its core values and beliefs about learning.
 
 What to Look for: 

§         a record is available of the process used by the  stakeholders to identify and commit to core values and beliefs about learning, including dates of more than one meeting and names of participants with designation of role in school (e.g., 11th grade student; science teacher; parent of freshman; principal)

§         dates of the initial approval by the faculty, students, parents, and other stakeholders as well as the school board are noted

§         evidence of the current research-based best practices used to inform the process is available along with a brief narrative of the process and activities involved

§         the core values and beliefs about learning can be easily identified in the school’s narrative (by underlining or italicizing them, e.g.,  a belief by all that ”students learn best when they can apply  their learning and can make connections with topics in other subjects” or the belief that “teachers can best improve instruction for all students when they are reflective and collaborative”)

§         students, faculty, parents, when chosen arbitrarily can state in general terms what the school’s core values and beliefs about learning are and indicate how these values and beliefs about learning impact them

§         the document which includes the core values and beliefs about learning is published in documents, on the website, and is readily available

Indicator 2:  The school has challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students which address academic, social and civic competencies, and are defined by school-wide analytic rubrics that identify targeted high levels of achievement.

What to Look for:

§         The school’s approved statement of core values and beliefs about learning includes a list of learning expectations which are or can  easily be labeled by academic, civic, or social competencies

§         The school’s learning expectations are challenging

§         The school’s learning expectations prepare students for the remainder of the 21st century

§         The school has at least one analytic rubric for each learning expectation (including, academic, civic, and social) that can be used with all students (or school-wide) (e.g. each rubric has specific criteria listed under various levels of achievement  so that students, parents, and teachers, are very clear about what the student must do to be successful on each of the learning expectations)

§         Each analytic rubric has the desired level of achievement clearly marked or targeted (e.g., “meeting the expectation”)

§         The school’s learning expectations are consistent with its core values and beliefs about learning (e.g., if the school has a social competency of “collaborative worker”, do the school’s core values and beliefs about learning make explicit teachers are expected to be collaborative also)

§         The school’s analytic rubrics use the same terminology so students are not confused about different expectations or levels of achievement (e.g., categories might be:  “does not meet expectation”,  “approaching expectation”, “meeting the expectation,” and “meeting the expectation with distinction”

Indicator 3:  The school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations are actively reflected in the culture of the school, drive curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom, and guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations. 

What to Look For:

§         Examples of ways that the culture of the school reflects the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations; e.g., if the school’s core values include promoting a sense of internationalism in students, one might see a variety of programs which expose students to various cultures, possible foreign language requirements for all students; extended learning and travel programs; involvement of businesses that are global in nature

§         Examples of specific changes made to the (a) curriculum, (b) instruction, and (c) assessment in response to the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations, e.g., curriculum:  if the school’s core values include promoting a sense of internationalism in students, then changes would be make to the curriculum, especially to courses that all students take to include topics about global studies and internationalism; instruction:  if a belief about learning is that students learn from other students, then instructional strategies would include opportunities for students to learn from each other; assessment:  if the beliefs about learning include the idea that students should have more than one chance to be assessed on a learning expectation, then teachers’ grading practices would reflect this belief, and students would not be penalized for receiving a low score early in the semester, if the student eventually masters the learning expectations.

§         Specific changes to or adaptations of school policies, procedures, and decisions resulting from examination of the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations:  a school community holds a variety of meetings to discuss grouping practices and takes step to reduce the number of levels of courses in order to ensure that all students are exposed to challenging curriculum; on the same topic, a school creates common assessment for like-courses so that all students are held to a high level of expectation; a school; a school reviews its cell-phone policy to incorporate the use of cell-phones and smart phones for learning

§         A list of resource allocations that have been made in response to supporting the school’s core values, beliefs about learning, and its 21st century learning expectations, e.g., a school reports specific increases in professional development funding to help teachers learn how to review data and to begin the work of disaggregating data; a school reports additional funding to develop new curriculum and to provide materials, supplies, and staffing for a new course designed specifically for one of the school’s learning expectations.

§         Visitors will see signs of the culture of the school, e.g.:

§         Academic learning is valued

§         The school is truly a community of learners or a democratic school or an inclusive school

§         The adults respect students; students respect adults; students respect students; there are no obvious cliques at odds with each other; teachers talk about teaching and learning when they are out of the classroom; departments are not segregated; cross-disciplinary discussion occur, are valued, and are made easy by configuration;  support staff are treated as integral members of the school community; there are no obviously disenfranchised students; decisions are made on the basis of what is best for all students

Indicator 4:  The school regularly reviews and revises its core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations based on research, multiple data sources, as well as district and school community priorities.

What to Look for: 

§         the school leadership has a process and timeline for the regular review and revision of its core values, beliefs, and the learning expectations

§         school leaders and faculty can cite readings/research to ensure they are cognizant of 21st century learning skills

§         periodic forums are held to share information about 21st century skills and learning, including the solicitation of feedback from the local business community

§         the school examines data about students’ achievement of school-wide learning expectations, student performance on standardized tests, and student work as part of a review of targeted school-wide learning priorities

§         there are data teams, or PLC’s, or other designated groups who meet regularly to analyze results of standardized tests, assessment of student achievement of the school’s learning expectations, especially disaggregated data to determine achievement gaps

§         evidence of changes made or discussion of the learning expectations, based upon the review of data sources

§         as part of the work of PLC’s faculty regularly discusses research on learning to include an assessment of the implications of such research on the school’s beliefs about learning;

§          the faculty incorporates discussion of district and community priorities into its discussion of the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations

§         the school’s learning expectations align with the district’s learning goals

§         Visitors will see signs of the culture of the school, e.g.:

§         Academic learning is valued

§         The school is truly a community of learners or a democratic school or an inclusive school

§         The adults respect students; students respect adults; students respect students; there are no obvious cliques at odds with each other; teachers talk about teaching and learning when they are out of the classroom; departments are not segregated; cross-disciplinary discussion occur, are valued, and are made easy by configuration;  support staff are treated as integral members of the school community; there are no obviously disenfranchised students; decisions are made on the basis of what is best for all students



Core Values, Beliefs, and Learning Expectations
A rating of DEFICIENT is appropriate if any of the following exist:  
  • ƒ The absence of a statement of the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations 
  • The failure of the statement to identify a set of core values and beliefs for the school beyond generic goals  
  • A statement of core values, beliefs about learning, and learning expectations that is not informed by current research   
  • A statement of core values, beliefs, and learning expectations that was not developed through a dynamic, collaborative, and inclusive process 
  • A lack of challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students which address academic, social, and civic competencies, and a lack of school-wide analytic rubrics that identify targeted high levels of achievement for all 21st century learning expectations    
A rating of LIMITED is appropriate if the school has engaged in a dynamic process informed by current research to identify its core values and beliefs about learning and has developed challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students which address academic, social, and civic competencies, and are defined by school-wide analytic rubrics that identify targeted high levels of achievement, but lacks: 
  • ƒ School-wide rubrics that clearly define in observable, measurable terms the 21st century learning expectations of the school  
  • An active commitment by all members of the school community to using the core values and beliefs about learning to guide the school 
  
A rating of ACCEPTABLE is appropriate if the school has engaged in a dynamic process informed by current research to identify its core values and beliefs about learning to which all members of the school community are committed and has developed challenging and measurable 21st century learning expectations for all students which address academic, social, and civic competencies, and are defined in observable and measurable terms by school-wide analytic rubrics that identify targeted high levels of achievement, and: 
  •  the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations at least minimally drive school initiatives, policies, and procedures and decisions about curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices 
  •  the culture of the school, curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations generally reflect the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations  
A rating of EXEMPLARY is appropriate if all the descriptors in the ACCEPTABLE rating are met and: 
  • ƒ The school’s formal processes to ensure that the core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations are actively reflected in the culture of the school, drive curriculum, instruction, and assessment in every classroom, and guide the school’s policies, procedures, decisions, and resource allocations 
  • The school has in place an established, ongoing process with prescribed timeliness, research and data sources, and identified members of the stakeholders to guide the regular review and revision of the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations in keeping with district priorities     
Comments