The book addresses two key barriers to school improvement that are currently impacting educators and school leaders. The first is the churn of constant change in the form of multiple initiatives and compliance overload experienced by today’s educators. It is not uncommon to hear a teacher say, “I can’t focus on the kids; there are just too many things to do. I’m overwhelmed.” Has change itself become a distraction? Has it forced educators to move not toward but away from their primary focus – student learning? The second barrier is a dependency on outdated assumptions, or roadblock thinking, that cause schools to act in ways contrary to sound educational practice. This book challenges educators to embrace forward thinking. Instead of depending on the next newest innovation or program or falling back to “the way we have always done it,” the CAR provides a framework that allows educators and school leaders to equitably and coherently address student learning by engaging in the deep conversations that are vital to effective practice. The book offers a universal blueprint that coherently and strategically connects curriculum standards, student learning, professional learning, and school culture to achieve meaningful and sustainable change that directly impacts student outcomes.
Patricia Wright is the Executive Director Emerita of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. She is currently a senior consultant to the Foundation for Educational Administration working with numerous schools in the implementation of the Connected Action Roadmap.
Chapter 1: The CAR Framework: Fueling Connections
Chapter 2: Is Your GPS Working? Curriculum as the Master Learning Plan
Chapter 3: Supporting a Culture of Collaboration
Chapter 4: Ensuring a Smooth Journey: Collaboratively Improving School Climate
Chapter 5: Leading the CAR Journey Towards the Ultimate Destination
Appendix A: Summary of Roadblock and Forward Thinking
Appendix B: 10 PLC Conversations
Appendix C: Unpacking a Standard Worksheet
Appendix D: CAR Instructional Unit Template
Appendix E: Guide to Developing the CAR Instructional Plan
Appendix F: The Important Role of Classroom Assessments and Common Assessments
Appendix G: Clarifying Expectations
Appendix H: Group Norms Reflection
Appendix I: Individual Norms Reflection
Appendix J: The Professional Climate: What is our Current Reality?
Appendix K: 10 School Climate Team Conversations
Appendix L: 14 Dimensions of School Climate Measured by CSCI
Appendix M: School Climate Rubric
Appendix N: School Climate Improvement Plan Template
Appendix O: CAR Planning Guide
Appendix P: CAR Rubric
Appendix Q: Crosswalk: The CAR Rubric and the PSEL
Appendix R: Crosswalk: The Standards for Professional Learning and CAR
Among many frameworks for school and district reform, CAR is unique in its embracing of forward thinking, of collaborative building with tool-kit guidance, in its commitment to shared/distributed leadership and capacity building, and to serving as a rallying call for children and educators. CAR is rooted in practice, thus making it feasible. Most of all, however, this book makes it clear that CAR rests on a shared culture that itself is scaffolded on deep inquiry, conversation, and sharing. As we look to a new educational landscape, CAR’s arrival could not be more timely, or more urgent.
Given all the demands placed on educators today, it’s absolutely essential we provide practical tools and resources to help teachers and leaders make sense of the complexities of their practice. The Connected Action Roadmap is exactly that kind of support! The CAR framework brings clarity to the work of educator professional learning communities while providing teachers and leaders with specific strategies and tools to make strong connections among their student standards, formative and summative assessments, and student learning. Unlike many other frameworks, CAR doesn’t ignore school culture and recognizes the importance of situating this crucial work in a strong learning climate. The CAR framework will serve as an invaluable guide to those striving to improve schools and strengthen student learning.
In my years as an educator, countless change initiatives have come and gone. The Connected Action Roadmap (CAR) is different. Embracing shared leadership that activates and empowers all stakeholders, and focusing on sustainability from the start, sets CAR apart from the rest. As the Commissioner of Education in New Jersey, I was happy to support implementation of the CAR framework because I saw firsthand the evidence of its success. CAR is a game changer for school improvement efforts.
I was introduced to The Connected Action Roadmap (CAR) Framework in 2019 in New Jersey and have been sold ever since. As a retired principal, I remember vividly those endless reform models over the years that produced minimal results. What distinguishes the CAR Framework is the collaboration, integration and coherence of the variables that determine student high academic performance, and it is now available to the masses as a published book. I am excited about the prospects for the Connected Action Roadmap for educators both nationally and internationally.
The Connected Action Roadmap has not only helped me to be a more effective Superintendent, it has enhanced my practice as adjunct professor, mentor and coach of aspiring educational administrators and instructional leaders.