School of Excellence Tools (2019—2020)

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Notes from the Backpack Podcast


Welcome!

Thank you for enrolling in the 2019-2020 National PTA School of Excellence program for consideration of the 2020-2022 National PTA School of Excellence designation.

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, check regularly and refresh for new content, and add Excellence@PTA.org to your contact list in your emails. Don’t let School of Excellence program emails go to your SPAM folder.

Important Notice

COVID-19 Response

The National PTA Programs team has been evaluating the School of Excellence (SOE) program based on the COVID-19 situation and all of the school closures. Based off of valuable feedback, we have learned that not all participating PTAs in the 2019-20 School of Excellence program have access to the tools needed to complete the steps in the program process, not all can be reached now to provide updates on their status and not all of the work in Step #5 has been implemented.

Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s School of Excellence program and automatically consider these 540 actively participating PTAs in the 2020-21 School of Excellence program cycle.

As you have met the program requirements up to this point, we will waive Steps # 1-4 so that your PTA can pick up on Step #5 (implementing your action plan) upon the return to school. Toward the end of the 2020-21 school year, you will be required to deploy your Final Survey and complete the Final Application to be considered for the 2020-2022 National PTA School of Excellence designation, which will be announced August 2021.

We will be opening up enrollment for other PTAs to join the 2020-21 School of Excellence program as well, but you do not need to take any action at this point. Next month, we will be reaching out to learn who will be taking over your School of Excellence program next year, as we recognize that some leaders may change.

Please know that we are honored by the work that you have done in your school communities through the School of Excellence program and, in many cases, continue to do through this crisis. Thank you for all that you do to support your school communities and ALL CHILDREN as a PTA Leader. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 PTA Resources for updated resources and information from National PTA to support you and your work.



Toolkit

Step 1: Enroll and Gain Support (May 1 – Oct. 15 extended from Oct. 1)

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. 

  • Upon enrolling, you should have received a welcome email from National PTA from Excellence@PTA.org. If not, check your SPAM folder.
  • Here is a running list of PTAs who have enrolled.
  • Talk to your school administrators about the program and shared goals. Did you know? 100% of 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 leaders may also have supports to assist you throughout the program process or to help you build family engagement!
  • *Familiarize yourself with the steps in the program.*   
Step 2: Deploy Baseline Survey (Sep. – Nov.)

Early in the school year, your Excellence Team will deploy National PTA’s Baseline Survey 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. Feel free to add open-ended responses or additional questions but DO NOT CHANGE OR EDIT these questions, as you will use them again to gauge progress at the end of the year. 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.

  • Feel free to customize and addend this sample letter to your survey.
  • *Use these specific survey questions when completing step #2.*
  • WEBINAR -  Register for this pre-recorded webinar to learn more about Steps #2-4.
  • Tips for Surveying
    • Provide both paper and online surveys
    • Use all available outlets to post the survey (social media, newsletter, Friday folders)
    • Ask your administration to send it out on the PTA's behalf
    • Provide easy ways for collection (sample mailbox from Harmony Elementary PTA in TX)
    • Collect surveys at school functions and drop off/pick-up lines
    • Provide rationale as to why you are surveying 
Step 3: Set a Shared Objective (Sep. – Nov.)

After your Excellence Team compiles feedback from your school community, the next step is to hold meetings to analyze what you have learned and discuss ways that your PTA can better engage families throughout the year. In addition to your efforts in moving the needle to the ALWAYS category in your survey responses, your Excellence Team will pick one focus area and objective to concentrate on in the upcoming school year: education, health & safety or the arts. See the Program Leader Guide for a comprehensive list of objectives under each Focus Area. Be intentional with the feedback you've received from the field to identify a school improvement goal that will enhance school programs, policies and/or practices.

Step 4: Complete Initial Application (Oct. 15 – Nov. 22 closed)

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

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

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've received from the field to identify a school improvement goal that will continuously enhance school programs, policies and/or practices.

Your first step will be to move the needle to the ALWAYS category in any areas of need in your Final Survey. Then, you’ll work to strengthen your selected Focus Area and objective. Use all of the resources available to you, including the online Roadmap to Excellence. Your Excellence Team will determine which of the recommendations 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!

  • *Use the Roadmap to Excellence resource guide from National PTA as well as additional local/state resources and community partnerships to accomplish your goals. Work with your Excellence team to develop other resources and partnerships that apply to your specific action plan. As you develop your goals and action plan, make sure that your work is aligned with feedback from the field for continuous school improvement. You will be asked to explain the measurable outcomes produced as a result of this work.  
  • *As you move through your action plan, make sure that your work is based in best practices for family engagement. You will be asked to explain how you incorporated this information into your action plan for improvement in your Final Application (Step #7):
    • National Standards for Family-School Partnerships
      • 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
    • PTA’s Center for Family Engagement - The Four 'I's of Transformative Family Engagement  
      • Inclusive - invite diverse perspectives, question assumptions, intentionally build relationships
      • Individualized - personalize invitations, tailor experiences, be responsive
      • Integration - link to learning, put the "T" in PTA, go beyond one-time events
      • Impactful - develop knowledge and skills, provide opportunities to practice and interact, measure success
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  • Recommended Training
    • New Webinar!- Register and listen to our new webinar covering Step #5 and share the presentation with your Excellence Team. 
    • New Webinar! Learn how to Strengthen Family-School Partnerships Through Transformative Family Engagement with Tracie Potts, National PTA Family Engagement Fellow and Board Member.
    • New Recording! Listen to our new recording and learn from Ni Kal Price, the 2019 School of Excellence Program Leader and Phoebe Apperson Hearst Winner at Mark Twain Elementary PTA. This extraordinary PTA was selected by a team of past National PTA Presidents as the #1 School of Excellence last August, earning national recognition and a $2000 grant for their school. 
    • As a School of Excellence leader, you are a PTA advocate - for all children! Learn about creating a strong action plan for advocacy from National PTA's Government Affairs team with this webinar from 2017-18.
    • NEW! Join program managers, Amy Weinberg and Ellie Miller, on Thursday, March 26 at 1:00PM ET to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on your School of Excellence program goals and process. Join via Zoom by calling (877) 853-5257 US Toll-free or (888) 475-4499 US Toll-free with Meeting ID: 688 228 710.
    • Learn more about the Four 'I's for Transformative Family Engagement
      • New Webinar! Register and check out this breakdown of the Four I's presented by Tracie Potts, National PTA Family Engagement Fellow and Board Member.
      • E-Learning Course - Overview of the Four 'I's
  • Tips and Useful Information 
    • Check out National PTA Programs to see if you can use the information provided to build on to your School of Excellence action plan at PTA.org/Programs. We offer grants too!
    • When meeting with your Excellence Team and implementing your all-inclusive plan, remember to schedule events around a time all families can attend and remove barriers for participation; like childcare, transportation, interpretation and translation. Be sure to gather feedback at every step to track progress.
    • Share successes along the way. This is a great way to inform your community AND build membership and PTA leaders. Did you know? Over 50% of Schools of Excellence share that membership grows and strengthens from having taken part in the program. Show non-PTA members the difference your PTA is making!
    • New! Check out some key findings from February's optional survey and learn what fellow School of Excellence participants are doing to improve family-school partnerships at their schools. Note how their work relates back to the National Standards and Four 'I's for Transformative Family Engagement!
    • Take pictures of your Excellence work and share on social media with @NationalPTA, #PTAExcellence and #PTAProud.
    • Take notes as you work through your action plan and consider using organizational tools like these to help you stay organized and on track. 
  • Make sure National PTA Emails are not going to your SPAM folder!
    • Email from National PTA - Don't miss our upcoming phone session with the 2019 National PTA Phoebe Apperson Hearst recipient, Mark Twain Elementary PTA, Dec. 4. 
    • Email from National PTA - It's action planning time! Use the resources available to continue your road to Excellence. 
    • Email from National PTA - Check out all the available resources to support you in following the Roadmap to Excellence. 
    • Email from National PTA - Take our optional survey by Feb. 21 and share your School of Excellence plans with us and other School of Excellence participants.

HOLD Step 6: Deploy Final Survey (March – June)

Towards the end of the school year, your Excellence Team will deploy National PTA's Final Survey 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 PTA, school and family members. While some PTAs opt to distribute the Final Survey by paper, others create an online version of the survey. Feel free to add open-ended responses or additional questions but DO NOT CHANGE OR EDIT these questions. 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 show your progress. Once you have the results from the Final Survey, analyze them with your school administrators to determine the progress you've made this year and develop a new focus area for next year.

  • Translated Survey Questions:
  • New Webinar! Listen to our new webinar covering Step #6, Deploying your Final Survey, and Step #7, Completing your Final Application.

  • Tips for Surveying
    • Provide both paper and online surveys
    • Use all available outlets to post the survey (social media, newsletter, Friday folders)
    • Ask your administration to send it out on the PTA's behalf
    • Provide easy ways for collection (sample mailbox from Harmony Elementary PTA in TX)
    • Collect surveys at school functions and drop off/pick-up lines
    • Set your goal to receive MORE Final Surveys than Baseline Surveys
    • Provide rationale as to why you are surveying and the progress you have made in the program as a direct result of the feedback you received at the beginning of the school year!
    • Thank your school community for taking part in the School of Excellence program to improve family-school partnerships 

  • Make sure National PTA Emails are not going to your SPAM folder!
HOLD Step 7: Complete Final Application (May 1 – June 1)

Once your Excellence Team has determined your focus area and shared objective for next school year, you will submit your results through an online link that will become available May 1. In order to remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit this application at the link below by the deadline.

  • The Final Application link will open HERE May 1.
  • You MUST have completed an Initial Application in order to complete the Final Application and be considered for the designation.
  • You MUST use the exact PTA ID# listed in your enrollment form to enter your Final Application.
    • Tips for completing this step:
      • Make sure you are entering the application for your PTA by verifying the PTA Name, School Name and Contact Name before opening the application link.
      • The application is on two pages. Click submit to get to the next page and submit, once again, to complete the application.
      • Be sure that you completed your Final Application - you will see a pop-up screen verifying that you have completed the process AND the primary Program Leader will receive a confirmation email.
      • You can go back and edit your application with your PTA ID # through the deadline.
  • Tips for writing your narrative (COMING SOON)
  • Check here for a running list of PTAs that have completed the Final Application and remain in consideration for the School of Excellence designation.
HOLD Step 8: Celebrate Your Excellence (Aug.)

School of Excellence designations will be announced in August. Those who earn the designation will receive a banner and certificate in the mail as well as digital celebration tools and national recognition. 

  • A banner and digital celebration kit will be distributed to those designated as 2020-2022 Schools of Excellence in August 2020!
  • Designated Schools of Excellence will automatically qualify for consideration of the prestigious Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award.
  • Send your School of Excellence photos and stories to Excellence@pta.org and tag us on social media with @NationalPTA, #PTAProud and #PTAExcellence!
  • Many PTAs reenroll in the School of Excellence program each year, regardless of their designation status, to continue their momentum in building family-school partnerships.

Questions?

Contact Amy Weinberg and Ellie Miller at Excellence@PTA.org.