Starting new schools can be an opportunity to innovate and create new models of learning that are aligned with the needs and interests of students, families, and communities. New schools can also offer more choice and diversity for students and parents, and foster a culture of collaboration and excellence among staff. However, starting new schools can also be risky and costly, as they may face difficulties in securing funding, facilities, staff, curriculum, technology, and enrollment. New schools may also encounter resistance or competition from existing schools or districts, or face regulatory or political barriers .
Improving existing schools can be a way to leverage the strengths and assets of the current system, and build on the existing relationships and trust among stakeholders. Existing schools can also benefit from the experience and expertise of their staff, and the data and feedback from their students. However, improving existing schools can also be challenging and complex, as they may have to overcome inertia, complacency, or resistance to change. Existing schools may also have to deal with multiple and conflicting demands from various stakeholders, or cope with limited resources or support.
Both starting new schools and improving existing schools require a systematic and continuous process of planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating school improvement goals and strategies. Some of the best practices for school improvement planning include:
• Engaging a diverse and representative group of stakeholders in the process, such as students, parents, teachers, administrators, community members, and experts.
• Conducting a comprehensive needs assessment to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the current situation.
• Developing a clear vision and mission statement that reflects the values and aspirations of the school community.
• Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that are aligned with the vision and mission statement.
• Selecting evidence-based strategies that are appropriate for the context and goals of the school.
• Allocating adequate resources (human, financial, material) and support (training, coaching, mentoring) for the implementation of the strategies.
• Establishing a data-driven culture that monitors progress and outcomes regularly, using multiple sources and methods of data collection and analysis.
• Communicating effectively and transparently with all stakeholders about the plan, the process, the results, and the challenges.
• Celebrating successes and learning from failures along the way.