Component Overview: Policies and Plans

Policy is defined as the written articulation of basic rules and associated guidelines that are developed and enforced by the governing body of an organization. Policies for schools are created at the local, state and federal levels.

For the purposes of the Portal, policies discussed in this section establish rules and procedures that create a measure of expectations at the local level related to student learning and achievement. Policies articulate the school district’s intent that all students achieve or exceed the academic standards in all content areas.

Systems are incredibly complex and often are not reflected upon to ensure equity. Charlotte Danielson (2006) states, “As anyone who has been involved in school improvement efforts can attest, schools, even small schools, are immensely complex organizations. They include many interrelated components, all of which are themselves complex and composed of many individuals with independent views and values, but everything is organized around a common effort. It is in pursuit of the common effort that schools establish their policies and programs.”

Districts are required by state and federal policy to have several plans including but not limited to Local Literacy, Title, Acceleration, World’s Best Workforce, and Integration. However, in this section, users will focus on communication and engagement plans. Communication and engagement plans recognize the diversity of all stakeholders and their circumstances, and see them as partners in education.

One of the most critical steps in advancing a standards based system is communication with a broad set of local stakeholders to reach a shared understanding of standards based education.

In this section of Support Structures, recommended actions and resources help create policies and communication and engagement plans that are equitable and embedded in shared understanding of a standards based system.

Why is it important to develop policies and communication and engagement plans?

Policies provide guidance to all those within a system to understand the rules and to hold everyone accountable. It is important to develop and communicate policies collaboratively so that there is a shared commitment and understanding of those guidelines. Policies are central to creating an equitable system of learning for every student. Often barriers have developed over time that create inequitable learning opportunities that policies and communication loops can eliminate. Eliminating structural and institutional barriers to educational opportunities requires systemic change that allows for distribution of resources, information and other support depending on the student’s situation to ensure an equitable outcome.

Engaging families and communities through effective communication is essential to creating a support structure for a standards-based system. Research (Henderson & Mapp, 2002) shows a positive correlation between parent engagement in schools and student achievement. Understanding the impact of policies, communication, and engagement of communities is critical to school improvement and educational outcomes. Engaging in the actions of this strategy will support systems to do this work.

How do we develop policies and plans for communication and engagement?

· Develop shared understanding of effective policies.

· Develop policies demonstrated to be effective in similar contexts.

· Develop communication and engagement plans.


Danielson, C. (2006). Teacher leadership that strengthens professional practice. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Henderson, T. & Mapp K. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory: Austin Texas.