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Collaborating with experts to support schools and deliver professional development, ensuring the success of all students.

Teaching All Secondary Students (TASS) Overview


eaching All Secondary Students (TASS) has been working since 2005 to develop a program that can be effective in improving teacher practice and system changes in secondary schools; a program that will result in school being a successful experience for all students.  TASS has been building a team of exceptional teachers, administrators and others professionals who have spent the majority of their professional careers actually working in schools.

One of the things that makes TASS unique is that it can offer an array of coordinated and integrated services designed to meet the needs of each school it works with to assist in making changes that will both be effective and long lasting. The TASS professionals working in your school will work together to ensure that the services delivered to your school are coordinated and integrated to ensure the greatest result.

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Admission Requirements

Contact Wendy Cohen, TASS Program Coordinator, for further information about TASS: [email protected]

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TASS Foundational Concepts

1. Vision Focused on Successful Outcomes for All Students
2. Supporting Schools to Become Systems of Continuous Improvement
3. Taking Schools at their Current Level and Providing What They Need to Move Forward
4. Working with Schools in Three Developmental – Interactive Components:
a. Foundations for Change
b. Intensive Intervention toward Implementation of Effective Instruction and Learning Opportunities for All
c. System Changes for Improvement Now and Sustainability Later
5. Providing a Comprehensive, Coordinated, Long-Term System of Support:  conferences, courses, workshops, coaching, presentations, wikis, on-line instruction & interactions, mentoring, etc.
6. Building Leadership Capacity/Teams – distributed leadership focused on improvement
7. Making Decisions Based on Data: Data Systems & Collaborative Decision Making
8. Ongoing, Embedded, Research-Based, Professional Development and Supports
9. The TASS 5 Inter-related Essential Expectations: Assessment, Curriculum, Instruction, Collaboration and Community
10. “How People Learn” – Integrating and Applying Research on the Brain and Learning
11. Coherence, Connectedness & Coordination: Focusing Resources and Initiatives on Improvement

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Program Prospectus

TASS Vision
TASS envisions Vermont secondary schools engaged in a sustained effort to increase and enhance the learning of all secondary students through the building of a systemic effort that ensures the ongoing improvement of teacher practice and the building of school leadership capacity through focused work on the areas of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and collaboration.

TASS Mission
TASS endeavors to provide a coordinated program of ongoing and embedded professional development and supports in leadership, curriculum, assessment, instruction, and collaboration to Vermont secondary schools that are committed to a process of the sustained renewal of school systems to improve the learning outcomes for all students.

TASS Beliefs
Effective and Sustained School Transformation requires

1. Distributed Leadership Systems and Capacity – the purposeful development of leadership capacity to build a leadership team and capacity from within the school staff to plan, measure and maintain the whole school’s effort toward improvement of student outcomes;
2. Vision and Improvement Plan Focused on Success of All Students – the leadership team ensures the development of the school’s vision and action plan that has, at its center, the success of all students;
3. Systemic Changes that result from Long Term Commitment to a Continuous Progress Improvement Plan – the leadership team ensures the systemic changes (written curriculum, supervision and evaluation system, schedules, new learning opportunities, etc.) that are needed to continuously improve/transform the school over time toward reaching its goals;
4. Focus on Improvement of Teacher Practices in Curriculum, Assessment, Instruction and Collaboration – a key TASS goal is to improve the interaction between the student and teacher through the acquisition, implementation, and maintenance of effective curriculum, assessment, instruction and collaboration practices that integrate the findings of cognitive science regarding leaning and the brain as in “How People Learn”;
5. Data -Based Decision Making – a data system that provides quantitative and qualitative data to inform collaborative decision-making on all levels, from individual student programs to systemic school changes;
6. Intensive Training of Teachers – effective and long-term school change requires a significant group of highly trained, highly skilled faculty members, especially in the core academic areas, in the knowledge and application of effective practices in curriculum, instruction, assessment and collaboration as guided by the findings of cognitive science and education research;
7. Involvement of All Staff and Community– change requires the engagement of the entire school community and understanding of all members of the community of the vision, key concepts of effective practices, and the systems put in place to move the whole school toward improvement goals;
8. Coordination, Coherence and Collaboration – requires coordination, coherence and collaboration of all efforts with all levels of the organization and education community: all grades and subject areas within the school; school board and community; Supervisory Union; state and federal agencies.

TASS Essential & Interdependent Expectations of Teacher Training

Educators who optimize learning:

  • cultivate vibrant learning communities that meet learners’ social, emotional, and cognitive needs;
  • design and implement a strategic balance of pre, formative, and summative assessments
  • that provide students and teachers the feedback needed to maximize learning;
  • design and implement high quality curriculum that engages the intellect and emotions of students and promotes understanding and application of content;
  • employ a wide repertoire of research-based instructional strategies in order to meet the diverse needs of their students;
  • collaborate with their colleagues on continuous cycles of inquiry in which they discuss data, make decisions, take actions, and evaluate results in order to achieve the school’s common vision of success for all students.

Three Developmental – Interrelated Components of TASS

The TASS program consists of three inter-connected and developmental areas of engagement with partner schools which includes work on:

(1) Foundations for Change
(2) Instruction and Learning Opportunities
(3) Sustaining Progress and Systemic Changes

A school’s work in any of these areas depends on the school’s status and needs as determined by:

  • assessments of leadership development and capacity;
  • self-assessments, or review of third party evaluations;
  •  level of compliance with state requirements;
  • review of student progress data;
  • review of current and past improvement planning efforts;
  • past professional development efforts and knowledge of current research, especially the findings of cognitive science and learning /How People Learn;
  • current and past school or SU initiatives.

I. Foundations for Change

Building on the school’s foundation and past efforts, ensure sufficient capacity for engaging in a complex, ongoing, intensive and systemic change initiative. This includes work focused on:

• Leadership Capacity,
• Vision and Direction Setting,
• Key concepts of learning and change – How People Learn, etc.
• Orientation of Staff and Community

Based on the school’s status and needs, a plan focused on Level I may include activities such as:

• Development of clear vision and mission;
• Development of a leadership team or teams;
• Develop a model of distributive leadership focused on the success of all students;
• Identification of and commitment to goals for improvement in curriculum, assessment, instruction, and collaboration;
• Actions to ensure the understanding of the staff of the school’s mission and vision;
• Support in identifying the systemic changes, intensive professional development and support of staff necessary to move toward the vision over an extended period of time;
• Resource identification and allocation necessary to begin and continue implementation plan;
• Introduction of basic concepts and findings of effective practices such as those found in How People Learn to whole the faculty, staff and community as needed.

II. Instruction and Learning Opportunities

• Intensive training and/or support in the application of effective practices in curriculum, assessment, instruction, and collaboration.
• Continued leadership support and capacity building.
• This work may be focused on a particular group of staff (9th grade teachers); area (assessment); content subject (math) and/or function (professional learning communities)

Based on school plan, activities might include:

• Sequence of intensive learning experiences for a significant number of staff in areas of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and collaboration;
• Training may or may not be for credit but does require commitment to participate in a minimum amount of training and application over time;
• Professional development for whole faculty on determining goals, utilizing data, applying new learning, understanding vision, etc.
• Utilization of findings of cognitive science/How People Learn research as a framework for self-assessment and/or related work in areas of curriculum, assessment, instruction, and collaboration;
• Work with groups or teams such as PLCs, departments, ESTs, etc. on group functioning such as collaborative skills, determining goals,
• Working with groups or teams on application of TASS learnings to specific content area curriculum, assessment, instruction, etc.
• Continued leadership team development and/or support for ongoing development of structures to support and guide the work to achieve the mission and vision.

III. Sustaining Progress and Systemic Changes

Building and maintaining the school’s capacity to sustain transformation through:
• a focus on development of teacher leadership capacity and roles,
• systemic changes necessary to implement or maintain changes,
• development of new leaning opportunities for students and staff and
• continued building of leadership capacity

Activities might include

Identification of systemic changes needed to sustain and/or get maximum impact from gains made in practices of leadership, curriculum, instruction, collaboration, decision-making, etc. Such changes could include:

• Changes in school/course schedules,
• Offering increased or different learning opportunities to students including utilization of learning or distance technology
• Revision of supervision/evaluation system related to changes in effective education practices and student progress data,
• Identification and training of site-based teacher leaders and developing new roles for teacher-leaders;
• Continued content delivery including coaching or enrichment for all staff based on needs indentified through analysis of student progress data and evaluation of teacher practice,
• Development of new teacher or administrator induction, mentoring and coaching system;
• Continued and regular opportunities for new cohorts of staff to receive intensive program of professional development

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Services and Supports

TASS is a program whose goal is the improvement of student progress and whole school improvement through the provision of a long-term, comprehensive, integrated and coordinated program of tailored professional development and supports to address the following areas:

o Systems Change for Improvement Now and Sustainability Later

  • School improvement plan development
  • Curriculum development and revision – aligning curriculum to standards
  • Building leadership capacity – effective leadership teams at all levels
  • Development and effective operation of teams that support continuous improvement of students outcomes through effective use of all types of data
  • Development of future leaders, staff leaders, team leaders
  • Teacher and leader evaluation systems that includes student progress data
  • Increased student learning opportunities, and learning time
  • Creating ways to increase teacher opportunities to work together

o Tailored Professional Development Embedded into the Work of Staff

  • Coordinated array of professional development opportunities and supports delivered to your staff and school
  • Activities designed for your teachers, your leaders, your staff
  • Application of content right into classrooms and school
  • Activities designed to improve practice and results
  • Includes on-line supports for constant contact and individualized support through tailored wikis, on-line instruction, group discussions, video examples, etc.
  • Active participation, not just passive reading or listening
  • Increased interaction with teachers within your school and other schools

o Coaching for Application and Results

  • School coaching – supported implementation of improvement plan & systems change
  • Teacher, department and team coaching for consistent and successful application
  • Leadership mentoring and coaching to support all leaders
  • Coaching of collaborative groups, facilitators and resource staff to PLCs. TLCs,

TASS supports are focused and based on the most effective practices in leadership, systems change, curriculum, assessment, instruction and collaboration. We utilize the findings of the research on the brain and learning as a foundation for much of our work.

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