Schools encounter many challenges that may influence their performance. In the attempt to propose a strategy for the resolution of any challenges that affect a school, it is important to conduct a needs assessment into such hypothesized challenges. In school settings, needs assessment refers to the identification of various issues that need to be considered when launching a program for improving the needs of individuals, teachers, and other stakeholders such as parents or even the community within which a school is established (Milwaukee, 2012). At Robert Lee High School, which is located in San Antonio, there is the need to establish a program that would foster accountability and improved performance of the students.
The need arises from the investigation of the reasons given by students for their low performance in school. Some students adversely claimed that teachers do not take responsibility for their poor performance in school. Teachers blame students by claiming that they (students) are not fully inducing them (teachers) to engage more in both curricula and extracurricular activities. Faced with this need, this paper presents its assessment besides developing an action plan to handle the problems associated with the need coupled with a proportion of tools, which can be deployed to complete the action plan.
Results of the Needs Assessment
After conducting the needs assessment in Robert Lee High School, it was noted that teachers do not take full responsibility for students’ performance. If students fail in their examinations, they are the ones blamed for the failure. Students in Robert Lee High School work without a vibrant engagement of their tutors. This fact hurts the students’ performance. Performance improvement is dependent on the leadership roles that the school plays or gives to the staff at all levels in the process of learning by creating a habit of encouraging students to inquire more from their teachers. This strategy may increase the students’ abilities to work and revolutionize their learning process (Bernhardt, 1998). Any action plan that is used to enhance performance must work from outside the classroom and have a goal of enhancing and increasing students’ activities, success, and development (Northern Territory Government, 2012).
Teachers should engage with students while they do their work. This strategy goes far in helping students to improve their performance. This way, teachers can become more accountable for their students’ performance. Upon evaluating the various needs of Robert Lee High School, it was found that people at all levels of the school should direct their actions towards improving students’ performance by positively influencing the staff in the school to focus on students’ learning and putting all resources towards improving their performance. Indeed, performance should be the main goal for any school’s actions plan. At Robert Lee High School, quality teaching is a major ingredient to help in improving students’ performance. Teachers should take the sole responsibility for how the highly and lowly gifted students perform. They should be accountable for the attainment of teaching standards. Their main concern should be adding value to their students.
In the effort to ensure that teachers are accountable for the performance of students, the following action plan is proposed for implementation at Robert Lee High School. This plan revolves around three aspects for continuously improved performance: curriculum and teaching, development of staff at the school, and resource usage. In the implementation of the action plan, leadership from the school management board, school stakeholders, and other interests groups play proactive roles in ensuring that the action plan yields its anticipated results in terms of enhancing the performance of students.
The school curriculum stipulates what is to be taught in any school at any particular time and a specific level. It is the responsibility of teachers to ensure that the school curriculum is followed precisely (National Academy Press, 1999). However, at Robert Lee High School, as the results of the needs assessment suggest, there is a challenge in linking the curriculum with practical life examples outside school. Teachers claim that students have the responsibility to articulate the knowledge they garner in school with practical solutions outside the school environment. However, this method is not the right approach. Teachers are supposed to be accountable for ensuring that students can fit well into the communities from which they come after completing their studies. They (teachers) need to achieve this goal since they (students) are supposed to extend the knowledge they garner in school into viable communal programs that benefit society collectively.
To resolve the above challenge, Robert Lee High School needs to create strategic plans for improving the performance of students. It can engage teachers more in the school curriculum in terms of evaluating the capacity of its teachers to deliver the curriculum in a manner, which measures up to the realization of the key goals, mission, and purpose for which secondary education is designed to accomplish. In the realization of this plan, leadership is critical in ensuring that teachers are directed, controlled, and led in the process of delivery of the curriculum in a manner that is beneficial not only to the students but also to the communities within which Robert Lee High School is established. In the realization of the significance of the contribution of the community-based partnerships in the delivery of a curriculum that is beneficial to not only students but also the community at large, the school’s management must participate. It has to adopt “School Community Partnership Agreements for focused schools as required by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010-2014” (Northern Territory Government, 2012, p.5). This plan provides that schools’ management must provide a detailed annual plan that identifies the degree to which schools have achieved in terms of the attainment of goals such as ensuring that staff members remain continually accountable to their work.
Robert Lee High School is one of the high-performing schools in San Antonio. As part of an action plan to ensure continuously improved performance, it is essential that the school monitors and or reviews performance guides, which form the decision-making foundation for the actions taken by staff to enhance performance. This strategy is necessary for that schools to conduct a “self-review of the effectiveness of programs and practices that bring about improvement” (Kubinski, 1999, p.4). Conducting a self-review is vital since it is an important pillar for conducting the current practices deployed to enhance performance at the Robert Lee High School. It is also essential in the evaluation of performance reporting strategies utilized by the school. To this extent, schools’ communities become an important aspect of the action plan for continuous improvement. These communities, which also constitute the school’s council, have noble roles to play in providing feedback and vital information, which enhance strategic plans of schools that are likely to yield optimal results in terms of sustainable performance.
SWOT Analysis of the Action Plan
The action plan developed above suggests that teachers within Robert Lee High School require a means of ensuring that they are accountable to the performance of the students. This outcome can be accomplished through evaluating the strategies it deploys to determine whether they are effective in the realization of the goals of secondary education as provided for in the US curriculum. This strategy underlines the significance of leadership in the derivation of the action plan to enhance accountability and the continuous performance of students within Robert Lee High School. However, every action plan has strengths and weaknesses (Northern Territory Government, 2012). Therefore, SWOT analysis needs to be conducted in any action plan for enhancing accountability and performance for students in school.
SWOT analysis refers to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that a given strategy possesses (Hill & Westbrook, 1997: Armstrong, 2006). In the context of Robert Lee High School, in the implementation of an action plan, the goal is to capitalize on the strengths and opportunities that may be created by the action plan to enhance the accountability and performance of the school. This deliverable requires to be done while one is fully aware of the need to mitigate the weaknesses and threats of a given action plan.
In the context of the proposed action plan, focusing on a mechanism of ensuring that teachers remain accountable for the performance of students is a major strength of the plan. Such a strategy may help to set “clear expectations of standards for performance to promote a culture of evidence-based decision-making and continuous improvement” (Bernhardt, 1998, p.56). Teachers are also role models for students. Hence, focusing on delivering curriculum in a more practical way that is consistent with technical and practical demands in the environment where students are required to fit in after completion of their studies is yet another important strength of the proposed action plan.
Robert Lee High School teachers are highly trained in their respective areas of specialization. They are particularly trained on technical aspects of the curriculum offered in secondary schools across Texas and other states of the U.S. In the effort to ensure that teachers are accountable for the performance of students and ensuring that how the curriculum is delivered more practically, this knowledge base possessed by teachers acts as an incredible opportunity.
The main weakness of the proposed action plan is that it is difficult to derive a precise parameter to measure the degree to which the teachers are willing to engage with students. This argument means that measuring the progress of the action plan is difficult. Grades scored by the students in their end-of-term tests cannot be indicative of how teachers and students have been engaging with one another.
The threat of the action plan rests on the idea that school leadership and other stakeholders may be interested in ensuring that teachers conform to the best practices in teaching: practices that deliver the utmost value to the students through directing, leading, controlling, and monitoring roles of leadership. Therefore, it is difficult to make teachers assume responsibility for the failure of students in exams and other extra-curricula activities. It is also the students’ role to ensure that they attend all lessons and participate in class discussions. Why then hold teachers accountable for the failure of students?
Instruments and Tools used to complete the Action Plan
The proposed action plan requires several tools for its effective completion.
First, Robert Lee High School should have a performance review tool. According to National Academy Press (1999), this tool is essential for “helping in the identification of the actions, standards, and targets aligned with an action plan” (p.13). The principal who is the chief leader of the school, with the help of the school board, is in charge of managing the performance review and deploying it to build and develop teaching staff capabilities. Another crucial tool is the performance analysis tool and the self-review tool. These tools provide teachers’ reflections concerning their effectiveness in the delivery of the school curriculum, guides for performance reviews, and even the overall school performance reflection tools. The successful implementation of the action plan requires some means of monitoring, leading, planning, and directing. This strategy makes it vital to have checking, forecasting, and implementation tools. Such tools include the feedbacks given by the school leadership and other stakeholders on their perceptions about the performance of the school.
In conclusion, in the implementation of the proposed action plan, it is important to note that every input must have a corresponding output. In the context of the Robert Lee High School, the input is the effort put by teachers to teach while the output is the performance of the students. Consequently, teachers must be accountable for the success and failure of students. Amid the weaknesses of the proposed action plan, the community of Robert Lee High School and the parents are supportive and interested in making sure that their children achieve the best in school. Such motivation is instrumental in inducing work morale among teachers. This strategy is essential for ensuring the success of the action plan in attaining its intended functions.
Armstrong, M. (2006). A handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. London: Kogan Page.
Bernhardt, V. (1998). Data Analysis for Comprehensive School-wide Improvement. New York: Larchmont.
Hill, T., & Westbrook, R. (1997). SWOT Analysis: It’s Time for a Product Recall. Long Range Planning, 30(1), 46–52.
Kubinski, E. (1999). Needs Assessment. Web.
Milwaukee, M. (2012). Action Plan to Improve Public Schools. Journal of higher education, 2(3), 79-85.
National Academy Press. (1999).Testing, Teaching, and Learning: A Guide for States and School Districts. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.
Northern Territory Government. (2012). School Accountability and Performance Improvement Framework. School Accountability and Performance Improvement Framework, 1(1), 1-10.