Michigan’s struggling schools face a complex set of challenges. And while a school can take significant actions on its own to address these challenges, many are beyond the control of the school and require the intervention and assistance of the school district.

A key part of addressing the systemic nature of helping struggling schools improve is a set of tools developed by MSU K-12 Outreach partner, Education Resource Strategies (ERS). K-12 Outreach helps districts utilize the ERS tools along with multiple types of data to identify strategic changes that will positively support improvements at the school level.

Districts begin by using the Resource Check tool, a district resource allocation self-assessment diagnostic. After a district collects and analyzes data using the Resource Check, they can then turn to School System 20/20, which addresses seven core transformational strategies districts can use to assess and align existing resources to student achievement goals.

Education Resource Strategies is a nonprofit organization that supports districts to prioritize resources to become high-functioning. ERS has supported urban district leadesrs to optimize their people, time, and money for school improvement over a decade, helping over 20 school districts and education departments across the state. In the state of Michigan, ERS trains the MSU Specialists on its tools, who then assist the school and district leaders in sharing concepts and using the ERS tools and resources. The purpose of ERS tools, according to Randi Feinberg, Communications Principal Associate at ERS, is to empower each school district to improve its student performance.

“ERS tools provide Michigan’s  district and school leaders a new way to think about how they use their resources—people, time and money—to have the greatest impact on student performance. The tools encourage leaders to question current resource practices and consider strategic alternatives,” Feinberg said.

Barbara Markle, assistant dean at the Michigan State University’s Office of K-12 Outreach, said the tools help MSU’s field specialists create a common language for the school improvement work between and among district and school leaders, their faculties and staffs, and various stakeholders.

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