Choosing a Focus Area for School Improvement

Goals for Session

Participants will:

  • Identify a focus area based on school data
  • Create a goal statement based on an identified problem

Note: This was conceptualized as a 90-minute workshop; however, you can modify the timeline to meet the needs of the audience.

Materials Needed:

  • Defining the Focus Area tool
  • Exploring the Focus Area tool
  • Planning for School Improvement tool 

Note: Participants should be asked in advance to bring school data with them to the session.





  1. Introduce the goals for the session.
  2. Seat participants with their school teams.
  3. Have participants take out the data they have brought.
  4. Ask participants to introduce their schools and briefly describe the data they have with them.

15 Minutes

Work Time 

  1. Review the Defining the Focus Area tool and Exploring the Focus Area tool.
  2. Provide school teams with a short period of time (not more than 10 minutes) to discuss and select a focus area.
  3. Prompt all school teams to move to the Exploring the Focus Area tool after 10 minutes.
  4. Instruct participants to utilize their school data to complete the tool.
  5. Circulate the room to provide support.

30 Minutes

  1. Hand out the Planning for School Improvement tool.
  2. Direct groups to begin planning for school improvement based on their exploration of the focus area. Participants should define a problem within their focus area (based on their exploration) and should consider contributing factors and data sources that either confirm or disconfirm these factors as being related to the problem. Participants should continue to utilize their school data to complete the tool.

35 Minutes

  1. Direct groups to create a goal statement based on the problem and their contributing factors. School teams should plan strategies that they will use to attain the goal and will map out indicators for success for both the goals and the strategies.




  1. Pair school teams based on focus areas and problem statements and have groups share their problem, contributing factors, and goal statements for feedback.
  2. Instruct groups to provide feedback on strategies they plan to use to address similar problems or to attain similar goals.
10 Minutes
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