Elementary Grades


Elementary Grades Framework for Success

By Carita Venable and David Raney, SREB

Think about three students: one who excels in mastery of standards, one who is proficient and one who needs intervention. In your mind, could all three improve if they put forth more effort?

The newest addition to SREB’s Making Schools Work school improvement process operates on this premise. The elementary grades framework offers key practices to provide students with the increased purpose that can lead to that extra effort and on to success.

The framework is centered on four bold goals. Elementary grade students should enter middle school:

  • Ready to succeed in rigorous academic courses
  • With the literacy skills needed to read, analyze and comprehend a broad range of
  • grade-level texts in all subject areas
  • Ready to apply math concepts and skills with fluency, precision and accuracy to solve real-world problems
  • With the knowledge, skills and perseverance needed to engage in a productive struggle and persist in solving real-world problems

SREB piloted this process in 2019, using its approach to school improvement to help teachers and school leaders identify problems of practice, implement research-based solutions and learn within a collaborative network. That learning happens when improvement efforts link to a broader vision, and the solutions are sustainable when ongoing support builds capacity within the
school and district.

The elementary grades framework offers key practices to provide students with the increased purpose that can lead to that extra effort and on to success.

Among the lessons learned? Most students can master complex academic and technical concepts if school leaders and teachers:

  • create meaningful learning experiences;
  • provide personalized supports; and
  • encourage students to make the effort needed to succeed.

These lessons align with Key Practices for elementary grades and connect to the focus areas of the Making Schools Work process: Engaging Instruction, Aligned Curriculum, Leadership for Continuous Improvement, Systems of Support and Career Pathways. Educators can use the following questions to reflect on their practices and gain valuable insights for increasing success in elementary grades.

Aligned Curriculum and Engaging Instruction

How does the school ensure that students are engaged in all classrooms through quality instruction aligned with grade-level or higher standards?

How does the school ensure that each student has access to a curriculum aligned with state standards?

Leadership for Continuous Improvement

How has leadership established systems and processes to support a culture of continuous improvement?

Career Pathways and Systems of Support

How does the school ensure that every student has both the opportunities and the necessary support — curricular, instructional and social skills — to thrive and achieve success?

How does the school provide students with career awareness opportunities throughout the school year?

School improvement happens when these efforts are linked to a broader vision in which all teachers and leaders — and all students — own their efforts.