School of Excellence Tools (2020—2021)

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Welcome to the School of Excellence Program

Thank you for participating in the 2020-21 National PTA School of Excellence program for consideration of the 2020-2022 National PTA School of Excellence designation. We look forward to working with you throughout the 2020-21 school year to strengthen family-school partnerships and rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

This webpage will serve as your one-stop shop throughout the school year for step-by-step guidance, training and resources! Bookmark this page for your records and check regularly for new content. Refresh the page regularly and clean your cache and cookies to be sure you are accessing the newest content and resources available to you on this hidden website. 

We will provide programs updates, reminders, and resources via regular email communications. Be sure to add Excellence@PTA.org to your contact list in your emails. Don’t let School of Excellence program emails go to your SPAM folder.

❗ What's Happening Now? ❗

The Final Application period (Step #7) for the School of Excellence period is now closed (as of June 15, 2021).

Only those PTAs who have completed this required step, by the program deadline and as seen in this list, will be considered for the 2020-2022 National PTA School of Excellence designation.


These applications are currently under review for consideration. By mid-August, National PTA will announce the 2020-2022 National PTA School of Excellence designees. In the interim, local PTAs are encouraged, regardless of designation status, to reenroll in the program at PTA.org/Excellence as best practice. And, if you have not yet completed our Program Leader Feedback Form please do so here and by Friday, September 10. We will use your responses to better understand your experiences and enhance the program moving forward.

Email Excellence@PTA.org with any questions.



Program Toolkit

Step 1: Enroll and Gain Support (June 1 - Oct. 15 deadline extended from Oct. 1)

Enroll

Upon enrolling, you should have received a welcome email from National PTA from Excellence@PTA.org. If not, check your SPAM folder. If you are still unable to locate the welcome email, let us know by emailing Excellence@PTA.org with your name, PTA name and contact information for your Excellence Team members. It is important that you stay connected to National PTA throughout the program year.

Check HERE for a running list of new PTAs who have enrolled (June 1 - Oct. 15). In addition to our new enrollees, the 2020-21 program cycle includes up to 537 PTAs who were actively participating in the 2019-20 program when it was postponed.

Learn more about the program:

The School of Excellence program was created from PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and is informed by the Four Is for Transformative Family Engagement. You will be asked to incorporate these frameworks into your School of Excellence action plan and final narrative.

As get started in your Excellence journey, familiarize yourself with the steps in the program using the Program Leader Guide (en Español) and review our Frequently Asked Questions (en Español) resource.

Curious about other School of Excellence designees? Check out past Schools of Excellence: 2014-20162015-20172016-20182017-20192018-2020 and 2019-2021.

Gain Support

Now that you have enrolled in the program, you can start building your Excellence Team. This team of inclusive volunteers will help you through the remaining program steps. When recruiting volunteers, consider building a diverse team that is representative of your entire school community. Try to have members that represent families, administrators, staff, student leaders (depending on age) and community members. Diversity enriches the process by bringing a variety of perspectives, connections and ideas to the table.

Be sure to work with your school administrators and speak with them about the program and shared goals. This is an important step in achieving the School of Excellence designation. Evidence of this that 100% of past School of Excellence principals perceived the program positively and reported that:

  • The program added value to their school community.
  • They would recommend the program to a fellow colleague.
  • They would participate in the program again.

Inform your state, district and council PTA Leaders that you are participating in the program to make sure that you are a PTA in good-standing. State PTA websites often have supports to assist you throughout the program to help you expand family engagement or program efforts and guide relief efforts from COVID-19.

Get Connected

Make sure you are connected to National PTA!


Step 2: Deploy Baseline Survey (Sep. - Nov.)

The Baseline Survey Questions

Early in the school year, your Excellence Team will deploy National PTA’s Baseline Survey questions to your school community—including families, administrators and teachers. The format of your Baseline Survey can be whatever works best for your PTA, school and family members. While some PTAs opt to distribute the Baseline Survey by paper, others create an online version of the survey.

This year, as many schools will be starting remotely, we strongly recommend that you transfer the survey questions to an online platform (e.g., GoogleDoc, SurveyFace) and deploy the survey virtually.

DO NOT CHANGE OR EDIT these survey questions, as you will use the same survey questions again at the end of the year to gauge progress. However, you are encouraged to ask for open-ended responses or additional questions to determine the greatest needs of your school community. Consider asking direct questions to help guide COVID-19 relief efforts in the areas of food security, mental health and social emotional support, distance learning or internet and device access.

While there is no set number of survey responses required by National PTA, we strongly encourage you to collect as many survey responses as possible to best inform your work throughout the school year.

Deploy these specific 20 survey questions as provided when completing step #2: Baseline Survey Questions

As a part of your efforts to reach, survey and serve your entire school community your Excellence Team should work to translate and/or transcribe the survey questions into the home languages of your families. We encourage you to work with your parent liaisons, school administrators and/or district leadership to discover what translation options might be available.  

Please consider sharing any translated survey questions back to us at Excellence@PTA.org as the translated materials may prove useful to other program participants along the way. Below are all the translated survey options currently available:

Tips for Surveying (Remotely and In-Person)

Due to COVID-19 many school communities are learning at a distance. As such, you may need to consider new methods for deploying the Baseline Survey questions to your school community. Consider these tips and tricks collected from a host of PTA leaders on how to survey effectively:

  • Transfer the survey questions to a free, online platforms (e.g., GoogleDoc, SurveyMonkey, SurveyFace, pre-existing district/school platform)
  • Host a virtual welcome back night or fall festival for all families and include the online survey link in the program or chat
  • Host an online listening session with your community to learn about your communities’ greatest needs that the PTA can support and provide the survey link in the chat
  • Provide the link to the survey in the chat box during your school and PTA meetings
  • Provide pre-printed surveys at physically distanced events or food/resource pick-up locations following CDC safety guidelines with touch-free collection boxes
  • Employ room parents or grade representatives to distribute their surveys by email using class lists
  • Ask the principal, trusted teachers, administrators and family support personnel to push out the surveys on the PTA's behalf
  • Provide rationale as to why you are surveying (e.g., modify the SAMPLE Letter to School Community)
  • Provide a central home address or location(s) for collection (sample mailbox from Harmony Elementary PTA in Texas)
  • When considering survey deployment, use all of the digital avenues available to you to be sure you are reaching your entire community. Tap into community, school and district wide communication tools and explore new virtual platforms like ClassDojo or Bloomz.
  • Expand your PTA’s social media presence by using PTA and school Facebook pages and Facebook Live events, Principal YouTube videos, School and PTA e-newsletters, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Create and divide phone lists with your Excellence Team to create a survey call chain
  • Deploy the survey link text messaging through Classroom Parents or teachers

Step 3: Set a Shared Objective (Sep. - Nov.)

Choose Your Shared Objective

After your Excellence Team compiles feedback from your school community, the next step is to have discussions/hold meetings to analyze what you have learned and discuss ways that your PTA can better engage families throughout the year. In addition to moving the needle in your survey results from the start to the end of the school year, your Excellence Team will pick one focus area (and one corresponding objective under your chosen focus area) that you plan to concentrate on in the upcoming school year: Improving Education, Ensuring Health & Safety, Supporting the Arts or COVID-19 Recovery.

To find a complete list of the Focus Areas and the corresponding Objectives refer to the Program Leader Guide (en Español). Be sure to review the options available with your entire Excellence Team so you select an area of focus and objective that will help your work be impactful and long lasting.

The focus areas and the corresponding objectives are presented to help you dig deeply into school specific improvement initiatives and be intentional in your work. Your Excellence Team should choose an area of focus that BEST represents the needs of your unique school community.

Recommended Trainings (optional)

Training  on how best to complete Steps #2 - #4: Review this training to learn more about deploying your Baseline survey, setting a shared objective and completing your initial application.


Step 4: Complete Initial Application (Oct. 1 - Nov. 15 deadline extended from Nov. 1)

The Initial Application period is now closed. Late entries will not be considered. Missed the deadline? Look for enrollment to the 2021-2022 program to open on May 1 at PTA.org/Excellence.

Complete Your Initial Application

Once your Excellence Team has determined your focus area and shared objective, you will submit your results through the online link. In order to move forward in the process and remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit this application at the link by the deadline.

Prior to completing the Initial Application reference the SAMPLE Initial Application (en Español) to ensure you are prepared to compete it by the application deadline.

Be sure to enter the Initial Application under the correct contact (name and email) associated with your PTA. You must use the PTA ID # entered when your PTA enrolled in the School of Excellence program. You can find your PTA ID # HERE.

Recommended Trainings (optional)


Step 5: Follow Roadmap to Excellence (Throughout School Year)

Develop Your Action Plan

Now is the time to work with your Excellence Team to develop your School of Excellence action plan, prioritize your work and access all resources available to you. Be intentional with the feedback you have received from the field to identify a school improvement goal that will continuously enhance school programs, policies and/or practices.

Using your focus area, your job will be to create an action plan that will move the needle to the ALWAYS category in any areas of need in your Final Survey. Be sure to focus on at least one National Standard for Family-School partnerships and one of the Four I's for Transformative Family Engagement in your work.

As you build your action plan visit PTA.org/Programs and PTA.org/Grants to find National PTA programs and grant offerings that can enhance your work. Given the impact of COVID-19, consider utilizing different program models (real-time, at your own pace and tech-free) to ensure you are best catering to your community.

There is no perfect formula for developing a School of Excellence action plan. However you choose to create your action, your priority should be creating something that uniquely serves your community. Check out these sample action plans and resources as you create your own action plan:

Use the Roadmap to Excellence

Using the online Roadmap to Excellence, the Step #5 Training as well as additional local/state resources and community partnerships, your Excellence Team will build an action plan that will have the greatest impact on increasing family engagement and achieving results. Meet with your Excellence Team regularly, hold each other accountable, document your progress and celebrate your accomplishments along the way.

Work with your Excellence team to develop other resources and partnerships that apply to your specific goals. As you develop your plan, make sure that your work is aligned with feedback from the field for continuous school improvement. You will later be asked to explain the measurable outcomes produced as a result of this work in your Final Application (Step #7).

Best Practice in Family Engagement

As you move through your action plan, make sure that your work is based in best practice for family engagement. You will later be asked to explain how you incorporated this information into your action plan for improvement in your Final Application (Step #7).

The foundation for building successful family-school partnerships start with the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Embedding the standards into your efforts in the School of Excellence program ensures that your efforts are cultivating family engagement and community involvement. The National Standards for Family-School Partnerships are as follows:

  • Welcoming ALL Families into the School Community - create a climate that is welcoming for all families and build/develop a respectful, inclusive school community
  • Communicating Effectively - keep families informed about important issues and events and make it easy for parents to communicate with all school personnel
  • Supporting Student Success - ensure families know about their child’s academic progress and how well the entire school is progressing, engage families in classroom learning, promote after-school learning opportunities
  • Speaking Up for Every Child - empower families to advocate and support their own and other children’s success in school and beyond
  • Sharing Power - strengthen the families’ voice in shared decision making, address issues in your school and/or community, work with the school to amplify the parent voice and cultivate parent leadership
  • Collaborating with the Community - work closely with community organizations and/or businesses to strengthen the school, make resources available to students, school staff and families and build a family-friendly community

The Four 'I's of Transformative Family Engagement, as presented by PTA’s Center for Family Engagement, outline how your PTA can become more effective in its approaches to family engagement. The Four I’s help your PTA become more:

  • Inclusive. When PTAs are inclusive they embrace and value diverse perspectives. Strategies include: inviting diverse perspectives, questioning assumptions, intentionally building relationships
  • Individualized. When PTAs take an individualized approach to family engagement they meet the unique needs of every family and child. Strategies include: personalizing invitations, tailoring experiences, being responsive
  • Integration. When PTAs have an integrated approach to family engagement they connect and align their efforts with the broader educational system. Strategies include: linking to learning, putting the "T" in PTA, going beyond one-time events
  • Impactful. When PTAs are impactful they empower families to support their children’s success. Strategies include: developing knowledge and skills, providing opportunities to practice and interact, measuring success

Learn which for the Four I's for Transformative Family Engagement current School of Excellence participants are focusing on and how they plan to create meaningful change in their community here.

Recommended Trainings (optional)

  • Step #5: Following Your Roadmap to Excellence (slide deck): This training covers using your Baseline Survey results to analyze perceptions in current family-school partnership trends, creating an action plan that is rooted in best practice, and a few helpful resources and tips to ensure you excel in the program.
  • Family Engagement in a Virtual World (slide deck) training with Tracie Potts, NPTA Family Engagement Fellow
  • Transformative Family Engagement (3 min. video) with Tracie Potts, NPTA Family Engagement Fellow
  • Q&A with Ni Kal Price from Mark Twain Elementary PTA, 2019 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Winner: As you start to develop your School of Excellence plans, check our this informal Q&A session to learn from the expert! Ni Kal shares how she built an inclusive Excellence Team and worked with her team to deploy the School of Excellence surveys and develop a plan of work to address the greatest need in the school community (Steps # 1-5). View the chat log.
  • Excellence Chat I (12/09/2020): School of Excellence and the Four Is for Transformative Family Engagement: Review the optional survey responses collected from School of Excellence participants  prior to the session and/or the session notes to learn more about how other School of Excellence participates are working towards Excellence.
  • Excellence Chat and Q&A Session II (1/14/2021):  This optional School of Excellence Q&A session allowed participants to touch base about progress in the School of Excellence program. Notes from the informal session can be found here.
  • Excellence Chat III (2/23/2021): This optional School of Excellence Q&A/chat session to touch base with program participants about their progress in the School of Excellence program. Check out this collaborative document created by session participants!

Step 6: Deploy Final Survey (March - June)

Redeploy Your Survey

Towards the end of the school year, your Excellence Team will redeploy National PTA's Final Survey questions to your school community—including families, administrators and teachers—to evaluate your progress over the school year.

The format of your Final Survey can be whatever works best for your community. While some PTAs opt to distribute the Final Survey by paper, some create an online version of the survey and others provide a combination of both. Be sure to consider lessons learned from the first deployment of the survey. While there is no set number of survey responses required by National PTA, we strongly encourage you to collect as many survey responses as possible in order to best show your progress in the program.

Deploy the same, specific 20 survey questions as provided in Step #2: Baseline Survey Questions. Again, you are able to add open-ended responses or additional questions to gain specific feedback, but DO NOT CHANGE OR EDIT these questions. Using the same questions is necessary to measure the progress gained over the year.

As a part of your efforts to reach, survey, and serve your entire school community your Excellence Team should work to translate the and/or transcribe the survey questions into the home languages of your school community. We encourage you to work with your parent liaisons, school administrators, and/or district leadership to discover what translation options might be available.  

Please consider sharing any translated survey questions back to us at Excellence@PTA.org as the translated materials may prove useful to other program participants along the way. Below are all the translated survey options currently available:

Tips for Surveying (Remotely and In-Person)

Due to COVID-19 many school communities are learning at a distance. As such, you may need to consider new methods for deploying the baseline survey questions to your school community. Consider these tips and tricks collected from a host of PTA leaders on how to survey effectively:

  • Transfer the survey questions to a free, online platforms (e.g., GoogleDoc, SurveyMonkey, SurveyFace, pre-existing district/school platform)
  • Host a virtual welcome back night or fall festival for all families and include the online survey link in the program or chat
  • Host an online listening session with your community to learn about your communities’ greatest needs that the PTA can support and provide the survey link in the chat
  • Provide the link to the survey in the chat box during your school and PTA meetings
  • Provide pre-printed surveys at physically distanced events or food/resource pick-up locations following CDC safety guidelines with touch-free collection boxes
  • Employ room parents or grade representatives to distribute their surveys by email using class lists
  • Ask the principal, trusted teachers, administrators and family support personnel to push out the surveys on the PTA's behalf
  • Provide rationale as to why you are surveying (e.g., modify the SAMPLE Letter to School Community)
  • Provide a central home address or location(s) for collection (sample mailbox from Harmony Elementary PTA in Texas)
  • When considering survey deployment, use all of the digital avenues available to you to be sure you are reaching your entire community. Tap into community, school and district wide communication tools and explore new virtual platforms like ClassDojo or Bloomz.
  • Expand your PTA’s social media presence by using PTA and school Facebook pages and Facebook Live events, Principal YouTube videos, School and PTA e-newsletters, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Create and divide phone lists with your Excellence Team to create a survey call chain
  • Deploy the survey link text messaging through Classroom Parents or teachers

Recommended Trainings (optional)


Step 7: Complete Final Application (May 1 - June 15 deadline extended from June 1)

The Final Application period is now closed. Late entries will not be considered. Missed the deadline? Enrollment for the 2021-2022 program is open at PTA.org/Excellence.


Complete Your Final Application

Once your Excellence Team has analyzed your survey data, discussed your greatest accomplishments in the program and determined your possible focus area and shared objective for next school year, you will submit the results of your Final Survey through an online link. In order to remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit your PTA’s application by the 11:59 PST June 15, 2021 deadline using one of the links outlined below: 

You must use the exact PTA ID# provided in enrollment form to access your application from the landing page. Verify your application using the PTAID#, PTA Name, School Name, City, and State as seen on this list of eligible PTAs.

  • Use this Excel document to find and confirm your PTA's PTAID#, PTA Name, School Name, City, and State.

Directions and Tips

Review the following directions and tips to ensure you complete the Final Application correctly: 

  • While you can edit your Final Application through the deadline, we recommend that you use the SAMPLE Final Application (en Español) and draft responses in a Word Document so you have a copy and are ready to complete the Final Application in one session.
  • Coordinate with your Excellence Team to choose one person to complete the Final Application.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your Final Application in case there are any questions or unforeseen technical issues. Email Excellence@PTA.org for support.
  • As part of the requirements, you will be asked to email the results of your final survey for verification purposes to Excellence@PTA.org. Most survey platforms (e.g., SurveyMonkey, Google Form) will automatically compile results into a single sheet or set of data – this would be an appropriate method for sharing data. If you administered the surveys in person, you can also send pictures of the tally marks.
  • The Final Application is on two pages. You will press SUBMIT on page 1 to take you to page 2 of the application. You MUST CHOOSE SUBMIT TWICE to finalize your submission. You will receive a pop-up notification after you complete this step.
  • While the optional questions on page 2 will not impact your application score, we invite you to share additional information including your feedback about the program, media to Excellence@PTA.org and  a quote from your school  administrator about your School of Excellence successes.

Recommended Trainings (optional)

Check out these optional trainings to take your Final Application to the next level. Remember to revisit these tools to ensure you don't miss new trainings!

  • SAMPLE Final Application (en Español) - This is a sample document only. You must submit the Final Application by the June 1, 2021 deadline to remain in consideration for the designation.
  • School of Excellence Steps #6 and 7 (slide deck): This training covers how to deploy your Final Survey and complete our Final Application in order to remain in consideration for the School of Excellence designation.
  • On March 23, 2021, we hosted an optional School of Excellence Q&A/chat session with Ni Kal Price from Mark Twain Elementary PTA, 2019 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Winner! In this session, Ni Kal discussed her efforts in the program and provided insights into her Excellence Team's successes.  View the recording from 3/23/2021 here and check out the collaborative notes doc!
  • On April 20, 2021 we hosted an optional School of Excellence Q&A/chat session to discuss the final steps in the School of Excellence program - Step #6 and Step #7  Register and view the recording here and check out the collaborative notes doc!
  • On May 20, 2021 from 1:00 - 2:00 PM EST we hosted our last optional School of Excellence Q&A/chat session to touch base on the final required step in the School of Excellence program - Step #7 Complete the Final Application. Register and view the recording and check out the collaborative notes doc 
     

Step 8: Celebrate Your Excellence (Aug.)

Celebrate!

By mid-August 2021, National PTA will announce the PTAs who are designated as 2020-2022 Schools of Excellence. Those who earn the designation will receive a banner and certificate in the mail as well as digital celebration tools and national recognition.

Designated Schools of Excellence will automatically qualify for consideration of the prestigious Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award. The awards are presented to PTAs that have earned the National PTA School of Excellence designation and demonstrated outstanding success engaging families in student success and school improvements. The awards are the highest honor National PTA presents to effective family engagement!

While not required, many PTAs choose to reenroll in the School of Excellence program each year, regardless of their designation status, to continue their momentum gained in building family-school partnerships. We commend and celebrate this commitment to continuing the work! Enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year is open at PTA.org/Excellence.



Emails from National PTA

Questions?

We're here to help every step of the way! Contact Amy Weinberg and Ellie Miller at Excellence@PTA.org.