Keys to Quality

We know that schools from all sectors – district, charter, faith-based, and independent – can be quality schools.

We’ve identified 7 Keys to Quality that schools can implement to unlock the potential for all schools to thrive. #BecauseStudentsCan

Real world learning for the 21st century |  Schools recognize that academic standard mastery is not enough for our students to pursue prosperous pathways beyond K-12. They need opportunities to practice real-world skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and effective idea communication utilizing experiences and learning outside of the classroom. Schools may integrate internships or apprenticeships, incorporate technology or project- based learning, and/or work closely with industries, employers, and higher educators to create exposure and access to different opportunities.

High-quality instructional practices | Schools use research-based teaching practices and have a common language to inform rigorous conversations about professional practice. High standards are set in every classroom, and students are actively engaged in learning. Teachers are observed and coached towards continuous improvement. Professional development is personalized to teachers’ strengths and needs.

Rigorous & relevant curriculum | Schools hold students to high academic expectations across content areas including math, literacy, science, the humanities, and beyond. Teachers are involved in the development of curricular scopes and the selection of instructional materials across the school, based on high standards (i.e., Common Core State Standards). Learning is enhanced by culturally relevant instruction and technology.

Data-driven culture | Schools gather and analyze various sources of data to drive school-wide practices, including: quantitative and qualitative data; data from students, families, and teachers; and formative and summative data.

Meeting all learners’ needs | Schools serve a diverse array of learners, including at-risk students, students with disabilities, gifted students, and English Language Learners. Infrastructure supports specialized instruction to meet these diverse needs, and teachers are supported in differentiating their instruction to all learners in the classroom.

Safe & supportive school environment | Schools have developed a strong culture for staff and students that is driven by a mission, and emphasizes core values. They may integrate character education or social-emotional learning, as well as means to emphasize voice and choice. Teachers are valued and respected, and the staff acts as a high-functioning team.

Strong management & organizational capacity | Schools develop strong operational practices and processes that enable teachers to focus on teaching and build structures to support sustainable growth using sound financial practices, fundraising, teacher recruitment and retention, marketing, and informational technology.