School Excellence Model

The School Excellence Model (SEM) was developed by the Institute for School Excellence in 2005.  It resulted from lessons learned through research conducted in the Region One ESC service area between 1994 and 1999 by The University of Texas at Austin, Texas, and from the knowledge/experiences gained by implementing, in the La Joya Independent School District, a systemic school improvement framework advanced by Dr. John Champlin Executive Director for The Quality Learning Institute.

The research by the College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin conducted in high performing elementary, middle, and high schools identified, examined, and documented successful practices which had a significant impact on student performance.  Their literature and field research findings are well documented by Reyes, Scribner, and Paredes-Scribner in a book based on that project titled

Lessons from High Performing Hispanic Schools: Creating Learning Communities

Region One Education Service Center was the lead organization for this research project, titled The Effective Border Schools Research and Development Initiative.  The goals of the initiative were to identify successful educational programs that improve the academic achievement of linguistically different, low socio-economic background, and migrant students, and to develop a professional development framework and strategy for implementation of the research findings in Texas public schools and institutions of higher education.  Dr. Roberto Zamora, who was the ESC Executive Director at the time, led the improvement initiative, securing funding from the Texas Education Agency for the research and professional development and dissemination of the research findings.  He, along with Dr. Sylvia R. Hatton, who succeeded him as Executive Director, and Dr. Ellen M. Gonzalez, Deputy Executive Director, provided training and support for Region One ESC staff and districts.  Additionally, they led the dissemination and development efforts statewide, serving as principal trainers for the other 19 Education Service Centers in the state and campuses in the border regions of the state.

The school improvement model implemented in the La Joya Independent School District under the leadership of Dr. Roberto Zamora, Dr. Sylvia Hatton and Dr. Ellen Gonzalez was based on a total system transformation model developed by Dr. John R. Champlin.  Dr. Champlin is a nationally recognized educator and has more than forty years of experience in the field of education.  He has assisted more than 250 districts across the country to redesign their system to promote quality learning for all students.   His work is documented in his two recent publications – Schools are for Winning: A Challenge You Can’t Dismiss and Creating A New Workplace: A Challenge You Can’t Dismiss. Additionally, a series of writings by Dr. William Glasser on creating Quality Schools and the research and writings of Dr. Benjamin Bloom were consulted and influenced both the practices implemented at La Joya and the development of the SEM.  Current education research and validated best practices are continuously consulted and used to enhance the power of the SEM.

During the last five years, the SEM has been used extensively in South Texas border schools to assist:

  1. six (6) schools engaged  in a Region One Education Service Center, Gates Foundation funded, High School Redesign Project create a Culture of Excellence imperative for preparing students for college and the 21st Century workplace and
  2. twenty eight (28) middle schools plus twenty one (21) high schools engaged in a federally funded GEAR UP grant enhance their capacity to graduate all students college ready.  Emphasis has been placed on developing leadership capacity and assisting school leaders align their school’s policies, programs and practices to current research and validated best practices.

The School Excellence Model clearly delineates sequential and systemic actions, supported by research, which must be implemented to create high performing learning environments that effectively serve all students and staff.  The SEM consists of seven components.  Knowledge bases that support each component have been created and serve as the catalysts for transforming schools into knowledge based, data driven and results focused Communities of Learners.

Districts and schools engaged in implementing the SEM are expected to align their organization structures and strategies to a set of research based School Excellence Pathways that serve as:

  1. a decision making screen for all actions pertaining to policies, programs, and practices,
  2. a framework for transforming the school culture and creating a healthy organization,
  3. a guide for a focused systemic continuous improvement  process, and
  4. a compact for all district/school improvement efforts.