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The Focus Model

The Focus Model
Systematic School Improvement for all Schools

August 2014 | 176 pages | Corwin

With school improvement initiatives, quality trumps quantity every time.

Today, a vast array of techniques, plans and initiatives purport to improve student performance. But a “shotgun” approach—trying many strategies at once without the deep focus they need to succeed—always falls short.

The Focus Model solves this growing problem with a method for carefully implementing research informed initiatives proven to work and getting the most out of them, detailing:

  • From Standards to Learning Intentions—Defining with clarity the skills your students most need now
  • Criteria for Success—Defining with clarity what it will mean for students to have mastered skills
  • Critical formative analysis of students — Taking formative assessment to a systemic level of implementation
  • Impact-Professional Learning Communities (I-PLCs)—Collaborating with colleagues so that the focus is learning for both students and the adults

With The Focus Model, your school and system will benefit from the truth that less is more in planning for improvement.

“Here's a first-synthesis of today's best suggestions about how we can make school improvement a reality instead of a hope. A seasoned, perceptive author has assembled an excellent collection of school-improvement tactics that are demonstrable winners.”
—W. James Popham, Emeritus Professor

“If the US implements the Common Core Curriculum it will require a constructive alignment between the standards, the teaching, and the assessment. Jones highlights these latter two critical parts of schooling in a way that not only makes the alignment constructive, but he increases the probability of acceleration in student learning.”
—John Hattie, Director
Melbourne Education Research Institute
Victoria, Australia

About the Author
1. The Hard Work of School Improvement
2. The Keys: Focus, Monitoring, Efficacy, and Continuous Learning
3. From Standards to Learning Intentions
4. Criteria for Success
5. Formative Analysis
6. Collaboration
7. Impact: Professional Learning Communities
8. A Call to Action
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C

"It is a relief to find a book that not only addressed the urgency to provide purpose in teaching and learning but provided a systematic way to tackle the Common Core State Standards in an effective and in-depth manner for all stakeholders."

Elizabeth Alvarez, Principal
John C. Dore Elementary, Chicago, Il

"The Focus Model provides all of today’s best research to support your school’s efforts to systemically and collaboratively evaluate ever-changing standards and implement best practices in instructional strategies, assessment and professional development.  It is a concise, 'one stop shop' for school improvement."

Sean Beggin, Associate Principal
Andover High School, Andover, MN

"This book is relevant, readable and filled with practical suggestions for individuals working in both public and private educational settings.    It is a ‘must read’ for those interested in systemmatic, step by step school improvement, and it should be incluided in the professional libraries of superintendents, principals, and teacher leaders."

Judy Brunner, Principal
Springfield, MO

“If the US is to implement the Common Core Curriculum effectively, it will require a constructive alignment between the standards, the teaching, and the assessment. Dr. Jones highlights these latter two critical parts of schooling in a way that not only makes the alignment constructive, but he increases the probability of acceleration in student learning. By focusing on four major features, he brings a clarity that is often missing. In this book, Jones argues it begins with categorizing the standards (combating the myth of 100% coverage), by creating learning intentions and success criteria (clarifying the learning intentions), by critical formative evaluation that informs both the student and the teacher (provides the information critical to effective feedback), and by Impact-PLCs - such collaborative impact can truly make the acceleration so needed. In a book that is both readable and filled with engaging examples, Dr. Jones introduces us to a model for action containing a clarity too often missing. B.R. has done us a service by bringing together many powerful ideas, with a strong sense of unity and direction.”


John Hattie, Director of Melbourne Education Research Institute
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne
Key features
(1) Provides a comprehensive model of systemic school improvement that is designed around four, high-leverage practices that are proven to have a significant impact on student achievement.

(2) Grounded in the latest research and practice on school improvement and instructional effectiveness.

(3) Provides teachers and school leaders with a coherent, step-by-step process for implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

(4) Includes a number of in-depth examples of various stages of the model to help guides teams and individuals in use of the strategies.
(5) Brief by design, the book is ideally suited for use by busy professionals and offers a level of practicality that is largely absent from most works on school improvement.

Sample Materials & Chapters


1. The Hard Work of School Improvement

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