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Elevate from Plateaued Achievement Scores to Significant Achievement Gains for All Students

We partner with you to address the plateaued or fluctuating student achievement scores of schools starting on the Pathways to School Advancement. On the Elevate Pathway, we tailor our comprehensive services to your school’s unique needs and goals for your students and empower you to implement rigorous and engaging classroom instruction that translates into significant learning gains. Our team members have extensive experience coaching schools to achieve student outcomes by redesigning instructional systems and deepening leadership capacity.

The intensity of the coaching makes the difference between the Emerge Pathway and the Elevate Pathway.

In Walnut Middle School, students previously expressed challenging behaviors due to boredom. Now students engage in academically rigorous tasks in teams and express positive behaviors.

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The Elevate Pathway Is Right for Your School

If you have …

  • Some students expressing challenging behaviors while most do not
  • Basic operations, conditions, and systems of control in place
  • State achievement scores that have plateaued or fluctuate yearly

If your school experiences challenges with student behaviors, teacher and principal turnover, or persistently low achievement scores, you may be better suited for the Emerge Pathway.

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If you want to …

Transform leaders from building and program managers to instructional leaders
Cultivate positive behaviors in all students
Motivate educators and build instructional capacity
Increase educator retention
Engage students in rigorous, standards-based instruction
Lead to accelerated achievement and sustainable results
Build a schoolwide learning culture of rigor and agency on the pathway to the Empowerment Destination
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This work matters to us. Our social mission is to end generational poverty and eliminate racial achievement gaps through transformed core instruction.

We are so serious about our social mission that we founded our own independent Applied Research Center.

Our research center verifies every project using the most exacting federal research standards. We ensure our methods work in every school and every classroom in all the different communities that our partner schools serve.

The Elevate Pathway will help your school become the great equalizer children need it to be.

We Are Not a Program – We Do Systems Work

Schools starting in the Elevate Pathway often have implemented program after program without obtaining the desired student achievement results. In many cases, challenges in the school environment persist because the instructional systems were not addressed first. Programs cannot build the systems necessary for sustainable growth. Systems work is second order change which requires time and the personalized support of dedicated leadership coaches.

Embedded Support for Systems Development

Our onsite school leadership coaching focuses on rapid, small wins that lead to sustainable systems improvement and instructional leadership development for principals. Every one of our leadership coaches has served as successful school or district leaders. Every single one.

School principals work side by side with our leadership coaches, learning by doing. This alliance ensures new practices immediately transfer and impact the school’s instructional systems, creating visible wins and building principal confidence.

“Now we have think-tank partners outside of our organization that brings us a different perspective on ways to improve our instructional practices. It’s been astronomically great for us.”

Kenard Robinson
Principal, Washington High School, Former Principal, Jackson Middle School, South Bend, IN

“The coaching model has had such a great impact on helping develop our instructional leadership capacity. Developing my campus leadership team helps everyone to take ownership in the work that we are doing.”

Krista Daniel
Principal, Bunche Elementary School, Midland, TX

We Don’t Push Rocks Uphill – We Push Them Downhill

We build positive momentum quickly with a series of small wins that cascade into larger wins for the school. This provides a boost of confidence in the school advancement process while the effort gains greater momentum.

Hope Becomes Contagious

With each success, the culture begins to change, beliefs begin to change, confidence builds, and hope spreads across the school.

“Students are confident in their voice as they collaborate more and more. Teachers are more confident in their practice and ability to change lives. Campus administrators and coaches are more confident in their ability to be effective in instructional improvement.”

Javier Aguilera
Principal, De Zavala Elementary School, Midland, TX

Momentum Builds

We focus first on a coalition of the willing – those brave teachers that want to try something different to get a better result.

These teachers build momentum and buy-in among the faculty as they embrace the new approach. They essentially drive adoption of second order change in classroom practices.

Soon their classrooms pop with engagement and positive student behaviors. We celebrate their progress and invite others to visit their classrooms and replicate their success.

Teachers lead teachers into positive change.

“Focus on the changes you can make with the staff that is willing to make the leaps first. Cultivate your coalition of the willing and use those teachers to promote the program. I have seen the growth and mindset shift in our students and it is worth it!”

Christine Carrillo
Multi-Classroom Leader, Scharbauer Elementary School, Midland, TX

Teachers Become Leaders

The coalition of the willing quickly become influencers and advocates and help the principal lead the change process. Often, these same teachers become future leaders building a strong bench in the school and district.

“We have seen a huge improvement in the quality of our Friday PLCs that are led by our content leaders. Strengthening the instructional leadership of these individuals is having a direct positive impact on student academic outcomes.”

Jolene Galpin
Principal, Mildred Osborne Charter School, New Orleans, LA
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Student Behavior Transforms

Student behavior and school culture transform in every school we work with starting in the Elevate Pathway.

Middle School Students Take Ownership of Their Behavior and Learning

At Walnut Middle School, students expressed challenging behaviors due to boredom with classroom instruction. The Walnut leadership team recognized the need to change their teaching methods to better engage students with the help of our consulting team members. The school rallied around a vision to increase student achievement, engagement, and build student agency through rigorous team-based instruction.

After just one year, Walnut experienced a 37% decrease in discipline referrals associated with students expressing challenging behaviors. Positive recognitions tripled as teachers recognized positive behaviors and celebrated growth and improvement.

Students engaged in team-based instruction at Walnut Middle School.

“There was a huge decrease in referrals because our kids were just more engaged in class. They were doing things that were meaningful to them and they were happy to be there… People in our district say Walnut is like a totally different building.”

Rod Foley
Principal, Walnut Middle School, Grand Island, NE

Visible Changes in Students

We provide the structures and supports to help students develop agency or the ability to self-direct their learning. Our support and model of instruction transition students from a learning environment that creates dependent, compliant learners to one that cultivates independent, critical thinkers.

Developing Student Agency Inside Classrooms

Changes in both teacher and student behavior soon become evident as teachers gradually release the responsibility for learning to students. Listen to a group of students discuss the resources available while working on a given task in the video below.

The most important transformation is always within the students themselves. We don’t just re-label students as “scholars.” We go deeper with our model of instruction and support students as they become empowered scholars in their learning environment. A learning culture is formed, focused on rigorous critical thinking and reasoning, where students engage in deeper learning and scholarship. Students take center stage and positive behaviors become incredibly visible in all our partner schools. Visitors notice the difference in student behavior and ask how to do the same in their schools.

Empowered Learning Environment

Our model of instruction creates classroom learning environments of rigorous engagement through purposeful and meaningful tasks that require student dialog around standards-based content. Classroom instruction transforms from low-rigor activities and worksheets to high-rigor team tasks.

In every case, student behavior and attendance improve because students are meaningfully engaged in satisfying, quality learning.

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The Elevate Pathway Journey

Our Elevate solution includes comprehensive services for school advancement that is tailored to the unique needs of schools experiencing plateaued or fluctuating achievement scores with racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. The Elevate Pathway leads these schools through a focused implementation of instructional systems that transforms classroom instruction and leads to rapid gains in student learning.

Once systems have been established and classroom instruction and student achievement begin to flourish, the school can move toward the Empowerment Destination.

Empowerment Destination

This Destination is reached when the instructional systems and educator capacity development converge to create a transformed learning culture of high student agency and academic rigor in every classroom among every student.

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Pathways to School Advancement

A True Partnership

Mutually Accountable Partnership

We meet you where you are, we learn your current strategies, and we activate your instructional vision, initiatives, and goals for school advancement.

We walk your schools with you, we own your data with you, and we work shoulder-to-shoulder with you.

We embed ourselves in the daily work of the team, share your problems and challenges, and are invested in your overall outcome.

“Their ‘boots on the ground’ approach when they are on both of my campuses is what definitely sets them apart from other school improvement partnerships!”

Shelly Haney
Chief of Schools, REACH Network
Goddard Junior High & Bunche Elementary School, Midland, TX

We Honor Your Work

We complement and build on the work at your school.

We provide the intensity of support and structures needed to rapidly transform leadership practices and enhance classroom instruction while honoring the current work of the school.

We implement systems that are missing or are not well-functioning and strengthen systems that are working.

We build capacity in instructional systems as well as leaders, teachers, and students.

“We are not paying for someone to come in and do something to us. This is a lot of coaching work for both the leadership team as well as for professional learning for our teachers with an emphasis on teacher leadership teams. Instructional Empowerment works alongside our teachers to help them develop and expand capacity.”

Brandon White
Assistant Superintendent of Academics, South Bend School Community Corporation, IN

What Principals Can Expect

What Teachers Can Expect

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Our Secret to 100% Success

Our approach is methodical and fast paced. However, our comprehensive school advancement services begin only after we have a thorough understanding of your school.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Every school entering the Elevate Pathway receives a Comprehensive Needs Assessment from a team of experts. A full report of findings and recommendations is provided that identifies what is working and any critical issues that need to be addressed.

Leading Scientific Indicators of Instructional Rigor

We bring the most research-validated measures of rigor in the nation. We apply these scientific indicators of instructional rigor to focus the principal and school leadership team on the practices that must change and then coach on how to make those changes.

Tiers of Embedded Support

All our coaches are experts in their field. A leadership coach and team of faculty coaches are provided to every partner school to support principals, the leadership team, instructional coaches, and teachers. Our onsite coaches become embedded in the school community and form strong bonds throughout the partnership.

We simultaneously build the capacity of the principal, school leadership team, teacher leaders, instructional coaches, teachers, and ultimately students with our commitment to systems improvement.

“The team, whether it be the individual that works with our teachers or the individual that works with us, they have such a wealth of knowledge and insight that we may not see because we are here day in and day out. There are so many different layers of things they support you with, it is amazing!”

Iris Rocio Jiménez
Principal, Scharbauer Elementary School, Midland, TX

Practical, Hands-on Professional Development

Everything we do is focused on high-quality instruction with increased student engagement and rigor. Our professional development is relevant, authentic, and immediately transferable with highly engaging student and teacher resources. We believe that our in-person and job-embedded professional development accelerates growth and transforms classrooms into thriving and dynamic learning environments.

Scharbauer Elementary faculty engaged in professional development.

Short Cycles to Accelerate Progress

We understand the urgency all educators feel to make progress in a challenging environment. To accelerate implementation, we use a weekly action board and daily stand-up meetings to ensure all leadership actions are aligned to data and connected to their vision for instructional improvement. This daily and weekly accountability provides focus and follow through which quickly results in early wins and helps the team move from firefighting symptoms to curing root causes in their instructional systems.

Leadership Team from Henderson Elementary in front of their Action Board.

Executive Action Team Meetings

We believe reciprocal accountability is the foundation to a successful partnership. The principal and school leadership coach present their progress and data to the district executive action team every 30 days. The team transparently collaborates around available data, successes and impediments in the field, next steps, and how the district office can support the school advancement process. We hold ourselves accountable to the goals set forth and agreed upon in our proposal.

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“The Executive Action Team meetings give us the opportunity to look at sustainability, building capacity, and leveraging resources rather than quick fixes. The new tools that our leaders are learning with Instructional Empowerment have truly impacted the systems and quality of instruction in our buildings.”

Brandon White
Assistant Superintendent of Academics, South Bend School Community Corporation, IN

Hope Is Not a Reform Strategy

Our process helps schools move from “buying a program and hoping it will work” to a scientific approach and implementation with transparent data. We don’t believe in surprises. You will know every 30 days our exact progress, and with our scientific indicators of rigor, you will see the real-time data of instructional systems improvement.

The Longer You Partner with Us,
the Better Your Results

Build Your Capacity

Our goal is for you to experience self-sustaining increases in student learning gains.

How? We establish instructional systems, high-capacity principal leadership, and a strong school leadership team. Strengthening systems and developing leaders’ and teachers’ instructional capacity is critical to our work.

Grow from a Strong Foundation 

Our research shows student learning gains and proficiency continue to increase each year during our multi-year partnerships. Our support level is typically more intense in the beginning to establish the core systems. As the principal and school leadership team increase their capacities to lead the work, we will build the ability to sustain the initiative.

Catch Your Own Fish 

Recall the old saying: Give someone a fish, and the person will be hungry tomorrow. Teach someone to fish, and the person will never be hungry. Quick fixes never lead to sustainable results. The longer we have the opportunity to coach you, the better we can build your capacity to sustain the work.

Learn more about how we partner with schools.

According to a districtwide 10,000 student research study meeting What Works Clearinghouse federal standards in Des Moines Public Schools, all students in partner schools that worked with our team had a statistically significant improvement. Students in Year 2 schools had larger learning gains: the equivalent of an additional 21 days of learning in reading and 10 days in math.

The More Coaching Days –
The More Student Achievement

Everything we do is research-verified, including the effects of our school leadership coaches.

Research verifies that the more days of our side-by-side leadership coaching we provide to a principal and their leadership team, the greater the student achievement acceleration.

Instructional Empowerment takes great pains in providing the best school leadership coaches to our partner schools. Every one of our leadership coaches has served as successful school or district leaders. Every single one.

Basileo, L. D., Lyons, L., & Toth, M. D. (In Progress). Measure Real-Time Improvement of Instructional Trends and Systems: Validation of a Diagnostic Observation Tool.

Partner Schools on the Elevate Pathway

Highest State Accountability Results in School’s History

Kenly Elementary School in Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida, teamed up with our consulting team members to transform their learning environment and meet every student’s needs. Kenly’s state accountability results had plateaued in the lower levels for the previous 5 years. The traditional teacher-centered approach fell short of actively engaging students in their learning, and students often expressed challenging behaviors.

Kenly serves a diverse student population with varying needs, including 98% students receiving free and reduced lunch, and 95% students of color.

After partnering with our team members, Kenly:

  • Engaged students in rigorous academic tasks and cultivated positive student behaviors
  • Built the school leadership team’s capacity to lead with a systems approach
  • Earned their highest state accountability results in the school’s history

Kenly also achieved the highest learning gains in the entire state (94%) on the state achievement test for their lowest quartile of students in math after implementing our team members’ systems for rigorous learning. Kenly’s principal said he felt like the school had “hit the lottery” with our team members’ support.

Kenly Elementary School Case Study

Kenly Elementary School students and teachers celebrate success.

Interested in learning more about the Elevate Pathway?

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with Michelle

Many of Instructional Empowerment’s team members previously served at another company led by CEO and Executive Director of Research, Michael Toth, before Instructional Empowerment was founded. They compiled some of the data and research on this website at this previous company. Michael Toth and the Instructional Empowerment team have perfected and applied their own evidence-based school advancement approach.