When you picture a school, what do you see? Do you see a teacher, kneeling beside a student with a quiet pride in their eyes as something clicks? Do you see teachers, principals, and instructional coaches combing through resources, meticulously matching standards to instructional initiatives? Or maybe you see a group of district leaders sitting down in a meeting room pouring over their student data to measure the effectiveness of their instructional materials?
At Manor Independent School District (ISD) in Manor, Texas, our team witnessed all of the above.
Manor ISD is a community-oriented, growing, mid-sized school district located in the northern part of Texas. Through the support of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Resilient Schools Support Program (RSSP) during the 2023-24 school year, Manor partnered with The Achievement Network to support its selection, adoption, and implementation of high-quality instructional materials connected to its assessment strategy. Our strong partnership ensured best practices were “Manor-ized” to support the needs of its diverse student population and the district’s long-term vision of every student being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural at a minimum.
Setting up high-quality systems for support
The TEA knew the best way to support student recovery post-pandemic and steward ESSR funds wisely was to create systems of support for the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in Texas. Several programs were created or expanded to help districts make research-based, data-informed, and standards-aligned decisions. The RSSP program includes support in “strategic interventions in tier one instruction, adapting existing curriculum or adopting new curriculum, supporting teacher development, revising schedules, better serving special populations and other related topics.” RSSP matches districts with approved Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs) to assist in the work.
After working with ANet District & System Coach Dr. Clarice Clash-Turner on the district’s assessment strategy, Manor applied for the RSSP program to continue working with ANet on its high-quality instructional materials in math and ELA. Manor’s vision for their HQIM work included:
- Streamlining work across the district to ensure all students, especially those in K-2, had stronger foundational skills.
- Give more opportunities for collaboration among the teachers and staff.
- Gain a method to make systemic changes and implement assessment data.
- Take out the guesswork and time spent searching for resources to give teachers more time.
- Get actionable data and knowledge of what staff can do with the data they gain.
“The first meeting I think I had with the Manor team was ‘Katie, nice to meet you. We want to make sure the support is Manor-ized.’ They have such a clear, strong identity of what high-quality effective instruction looks like, feels like, sounds like. And then, from there, there’s such a positive, robust culture that you feel the minute you walk into the schools,” said ANet Coach Katie Tabbert.
A Personalized Process
The process towards selecting, adopting, and implementing high-quality instructional materials involved multiple moving pieces, time, and resources. At the beginning of the process, ANet District & System Coach Katie Tabbert worked with the team to set criteria for evaluating existing math and literacy materials. The criteria included ensuring that materials were
- could prepare for quality tier-1 instruction,
- and could give proper scaffolds.
Plus, the district leaders sought to give more time back to their teachers. Prior to the adoption of their HQIM, teachers would spend hours looking for resources for their lessons and evaluating these materials to ensure they aligned with the standards. After they developed the criteria and considerations for materials, they looked at the resources and their goals with multiple stakeholders, from staff at every level, to parents and community members. This work created the foundation for aligned ongoing implementation with professional development, assessment, and curriculum.
“Whatever we can do to align systems, resources, and professional learning, we have a responsibility to do so for the sake of our teachers and our kids,” said Manor Chief Schools Officer Alejandro Góngora.
Getting a good foundation in place at the beginning was key to accomplishing their priorities in the HQIM work, especially for the goals and feedback they received. They knew a uniform process was especially important to be able to get buy-in from staff and shift mindsets to be successful in a sustainable implementation, especially with their enrollment growth. With more students entering the district, more teachers and educational support staff are needed. Manor’s innovative approach towards recruiting teachers across the world greatly helps provide students with educators that closely resemble their own cultural identities, and enriches the diversity and cultural engagement in the district. The diverse staff is an added benefit for Manor students, many of which are emergent bilingual students. The rapid growth in both students and staff added to the need for a synchronized and sustainable HQIM implementation process, and increased the need for continuous staff buy-in. With the team’s intentional work, the HQIM work has become a large part of the instructional fabric of Manor ISD.
“The buy-in is there, because everything is synchronized,” said Manor Director of PreK-12 Instructional Services Shauna Clouser. “We also now had an opportunity with our [learning] walks this week, already, see a new teacher new to Manor walk into the practices we have in place. So that means it’s fabricated in the building. That new teacher new to Manor is demonstrating our practices that we believe in.”
The intentional work towards staff buy-in and training along with ensuring consistent implementation is ongoing. The team conducts learning walks and multiple methods of observation and collaboration to be able to grow together. With ANet, they focused on three specific campuses to help develop their instructional delivery and approach through guided reading practices and building instructional capacity. The staff across these three schools and the district leadership team have been able to build a process to finetune instruction centered around clear and aligned professional development, assessments, and instruction.
The results of their efforts have led to clarity across partnered schools on Manor’s learning ideals, concise and actionable data that teachers, school and district leaders can use to improve student learning, and rigorous, standards-aligned instructional resources with the knowledge on how to use them and how to assess students’ mastery of the standards.
Actionable Data Partners
The approach Manor took towards aligned HQIM gave staff the opportunity to work more collaboratively and foster a methodology for systemic changes. Through the RSSP program, Manor hired a data fellow, Dr. Caitlin Lowery, to be able to work alongside district leadership and coach Katie Tabbert as they shifted practices. Adopting and implementing the selected materials in math and ELA allowed leadership to comprehensively view student work and, if students were struggling, remove the curricular materials from consideration to be able to get to the root cause of the student barriers to learning quicker. Together, they’ve been able to create a data dashboard that monitors progress to allow for data-rich conversations.
“People in education often find themselves having to think on their feet, having to make quick decisions, and sometimes that means leaving data behind or out of the conversation. And what this partnership with ANet has really provided us is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the data, discuss the context surrounding the data, discuss what gaps might be missing in the data we’re looking at, and then utilize all of that information to move forward in the most informed way that we can.“ said Manor Data Fellow Dr. Caitlin Lowery.
The benefit of clear, concise, and actionable data is the ability to make those informed, real-time decisions and course-correct when needed. When Manor and ANet began their RSSP partnership, they focused on high-quality instructional materials for both math and ELA. In year two of the partnership, they started fact-finding about what their literacy framework looked like and found that it wasn’t implemented across the district. Through looking at data, classroom observations, and their methods of gathering feedback, they made the decision to narrow their focus just to their ELA work. The decision led to a strongly correlated literacy framework with their selected HQIMs that has a clear roadmap for pairing each part of a resource to a specific standard. The aligned resources and strengthened literacy framework also better serve their student population, allowing resources to be representative of the students they serve and giving teachers better scaffolds in both Spanish and English.
The strong instructional foundation and clear data gave the administrative leaders the ability to focus on additional, long-term districtwide initiatives that enhance learning for students, such as their work with emergent bilingual scholars, an initiative the Manor administrators are most proud of. Their passion for bilingual education was already built into the DNA of their district, ranging from their initiative to bring forth a global work force, and their dual language classrooms. Through their focus on high-quality instructional materials, the Manor team is able to elevate the experience for emergent bilingual students one step further. They’ve been able to not only ensure the literacy materials were standards-aligned, but representative of diverse perspectives and experiences. Their higher quality data and emphasis on data-informed decision making gives leaders the space to question if literacy data was collected with an English-language lens, and compare trans-adapted assessments to gather the best possible student evidence to inform instruction.
The growth and progress in Manor’s RSSP work is largely attributed to the intentionality behind their work. Their trust in each other and their ANet coach and the ability to work collaboratively has enhanced the way staff at Manor gather and analyze data, and set the foundation for the HQIM work. The team at Manor has worked diligently to create rigorous, engaging, and intentional learning experiences for the students they serve and empower the educators who serve them. If you’re interested in learning more about our work in Texas, visit our Texas landing page.