School of Excellence Tools (2023—2024)

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Welcome to the School of Excellence Program

Thank you for enrolling and participating in the 2023-2024 National PTA School of Excellence program for consideration of the 2023-2025 National PTA School of Excellence designation. We look forward to supporting you and your school improvement efforts throughout the school year!

PTAs were required to submit the Community Feedback Form to remain in consideration for the 2023-2025 School of Excellence designation. Verify the status of your PTA's Community Feedback Form with this listClick the link and choose "Export to: Excel" to access an automatically updated report. Email Excellence@PTA.org with any questions.

Message Board

 
Check out the latest updates, reminders, and useful information!

On to Step #3: Build an Excellence Action Plan and Check Back with Your Community! 
Through this program step your PTA will develop and implement an Excellence Action Plan based on your community feedback and align to the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Later in the year, your PTA will gather community feedback to understand the progress you have made. 

Get started with Step #3 by reviewing Excellence Lesson 4. This Lesson aims to overview Step #3, including requirements, recommendations and tools for building an action plan and frequently asking questions. Watch the recording or review notes and the slide deck.

Each Excellence Action Plan will look different, as each school community is unique.
All actions plans should align to your community feedback results and best practices in family engagement, specifically the National Standard and Goal you selected in Step #2. National PTA does not require your PTA use a specific format for your Excellence Action Plan, but this ready-to-customize template action plan is a good place to start!

Use The Roadmap to Excellence to take your Action Plan to the next level.
Along with the resources available to you in your community, National PTA provides the online Roadmap to Excellence. The Roadmap is a resource guide that directly relates back to the community feedback questions, the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the provided Focus Areas.



Guiding Resources

 
These resources will guide you through this school year as you work to achieve the School of Excellence designation:
   

One-Stop Shop

 

Excellence Toolkit is the page you are currently on and consists of the following sections: 

The Toolkit is your one-stop shop throughout the program and is designed solely for current School of Excellence participants. Bookmark, visit often and refresh this hidden webpage regularly for new content.

Step-by-Step Materials

 

Program Leader Guide: In Step #1, familiarize yourself with the steps in the program using the Program Leader Guide (en español). It is important to understand all the program steps before diving into the work. 

Roadmap to Excellence: In Step #3, use the online Roadmap is a resource guide that directly relates back to the community feedback questions, the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the provided Focus Areas.



Program Toolkit

 
Use the drop-down menus to find specific resources, information and requirements for each program step.

Step 1: Enroll and Get Started (May 1 - Oct. 15)
Through program Step #1 your PTA has two objectives:
  1. Familiarize yourself with the program, including each of the 5 program steps and their requirements, and build an Excellence Team
  2. Begin preparing to gather information from your community using the required community feedback survey questions. Note: The required materials for gaining feedback will be provided later in the summer as part of Step #2: Gather and Analyze Community Feedback. 

Enroll

Upon enrolling, the individual who completed the enrollment form should have received a welcome email from National PTA (Excellence@PTA.org). If not, check your SPAM folder. If you are still unable to locate the welcome email, email us at Excellence@PTA.org so we can ensure you stay connected to National PTA throughout the program year.

Be sure to inform your state that you are participating in the program and to make sure that you are a PTA in good standing. Only PTAs in good standing, as defined by their state PTA, will be eligible for the National PTA School of Excellence designation. Your state PTA, along with district and/or council PTA Leaders, may also be able to provide additional resources and support to assist you in expanding your family engagement or program efforts. 

Get Started - Learn About the Program

The School of Excellence program is based in best practice using PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnerships: Welcome All Families, Communicate Effectively, Support Student Success, Speak Up For Every Child, Share Power and Collaborate With The Community. You will be expected to incorporate at least one of these into your efforts through the program.

The Standards were updated and improved upon in 2022, so you are highly encouraged to learn more about them by exploring what has changed since the 2008 version, including the definitions, goals and indicators for each of the six tenets. The PTA National Standards Overview (en español) is a great place to start!

As you get started on your Excellence journey, familiarize yourself with the steps in the program using the  Program Leader Guide (en español) and review these Frequently Asked Questions (en español).

Get Started - Gain Support

Seek Diversity in Your Excellence Team

When recruiting volunteers for your Excellence Team, seek diverse individuals that are representative of your entire school community, including families, administrators, staff, student leaders (depending on age) and community members. Remember that your success in the program depends on your Excellence Team’s efforts to create and implement action plans that are relevant and valuable to your entire school community. 

Diversity will enrich your experience through the program by bringing a variety of perspectives, connections and ideas to the table. This will also help build trust, relationships and potentially attract new action-oriented members to your PTA. We recommend this resource to support your work: How to welcome diverse perspectives into your PTA (en español).

You can also explore National PTA's DEI Resource webpage to find additional tools for assessing where your PTA is—and where your PTA is headed—on your DEI journey. 

Collaborate with School Administrators in Your Excellence Team

Be sure to work with your school administrators and speak with them about the program and your shared goals. Consider them to be partners to your Excellence Team and use their knowledge, connections and support to enhance your impact.

Many school principals are a part of the PTA’s Excellence Team or champions of the work. In fact,100% of past School of Excellence principals perceived the School of Excellence program positively and reported that the program added value to their school community.

Get Started – Prepare to Gather Community Feedback

Towards the beginning of the school year, and throughout the school, this Excellence Team will work together to gather community feedback using the community feedback resources provided by National PTA. The required questions will be available later in the summer as part of Step #2: Gather and Analyze Community Feedback.

Your PTA will use the required community feedback questions, as provided by National PTA, to collect information and a better understanding of family engagement trends in your school community. Each community is unique, so your PTA can collect community feedback through a Survey and/or Listening Sessions. In-Person and At-Home community feedback collection methods are permitted.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Prioritize your efforts through the program beginning with Step #1. Use this SMARTIE Goals planning resource to ensure you are setting attainable goals for your Excellence Team. 

Understand Your PTA's Communication Methods

To prepare for collecting feedback from your community you should begin by deep-diving into how your PTA currently shares with and collects information from your community, consider the following questions for discuss:

  • What ways do I currently communicate with my school community (e.g., PTA meetings, social media, classroom leaders, email newsletters)?
  • Based on our current methods for communication, what methods are the most successful and what methods are least successful?
  • What school communities are typically missed in our methods of communication? What ideas do we have to improve our connection with these communities?
  • What are the languages spoken in our school community? What translation services and/or opportunities exist that we can use? 

Your answers to these questions should help you and your Excellence Team determine your method for gaining community feedback. Work with your parent liaisons, school administrators and/or district leadership to deep dive into how your PTA can best gather community feedback.  

Develop Your Reason For Collecting Feedback

As you prepare, begin to craft your rationale as to why you are participating in the program and surveying your community. We recommend sharing a letter to your community that explains the School of Excellence program and outlines your PTA’s participation in the program. Here is a SAMPLE Letter to the School Community (en español) for you to modify.

Step 2: Gather and Analyze Community Feedback (Aug. - Nov. 15)
Through this program Step #2 your PTA has two objectives:
  1. Gather information from your community using the required community feedback questions. 
  2. Complete the required Community Feedback Form by the Nov. 15 deadline. 

Gather Feedback

Through Step #1, your PTA should have developed a sense of how you can best reach your entire school community and learned more about the National Standards. Based on this, your PTA will gather community feedback by deploying a community feedback survey and/or hosting a listening session. To ensure the feedback you gather is action-oriented and aligned to the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, National PTA provides, and requires your PTA to use, specific community feedback questions.  

Methods and Materials 
Essential viewing: Watch or listen to this Excellence Lesson discussing the available community feedback methods and materials that your PTA must use to complete Step #2. 

Host a listening sessions: Through this method your PTA will bring together parents, families and/or community members to discuss the provided, and required, community feedback discussion questions. Listening sessions provide families and others the opportunity to express their opinions, share ideas, engage the community and will help your Excellence Team develop community-based ideas for addressing the areas.

Deploy a community feedback survey: For this method, National PTA provides a survey questions that align to each of the six National Standards and the goals outlined for each Standard. You may use paper and/or digital survey options, however, you are required to use the survey questions as provided by National PTA to ensure your feedback and efforts in the program align to the National Standards and best practices in family engagement.

To provide flexibility and customization options, however, there are (3) survey options available: 
  1. Community Feedback Survey Goal 1 and Goal 2 Questions (52 Questions) (en español)
  2. Community Feedback Survey Goal 1 Questions (26 Questions) (en español)
  3. Community Feedback Survey Goal 2 Questions (26 Questions) (en español)
National PTA also provides template digital surveys in Google Forms that your PTA may copy and deploy to your community. Please follow this link to find directions for accessing and copying the survey options. It is highly important you create a copy of the survey to ensure your PTA maintains ownership of the survey and survey responses. 

Additional Questions
You may include additional questions or open-ended prompts to determine the greatest needs of your school community. This document outlines optional, additional questions for your PTA to consider, including:
  • Questions to collect demographic information to help your PTA know what communities are represented in the conversation and which voices are missing.
  • Open-ended prompts to gain additional information around community needs.
  • Questions about the communication methods/platforms used by the PTA to get an idea of what is and is not working. 

Gather Feedback – Requirements

Survey and/or discussion questions

You will verify you deployed the required questions through the Community Feedback Form (Due Nov. 15) by sharing, for example, a link to or a download of your survey results, a photo of your tallied survey results or meeting minutes taken during a listening session. The results are collected to verify that your PTA used the required feedback questions in a valid way. We do not need all of the surveys you collected.

Number of people engaged 

Each school community is so different, so there is no minimum number of survey responses required by National PTA. However, we strongly encourage you to collect as many survey responses as possible to best inform your work throughout the school year.

Analyze Community Feedback

After your Excellence Team compiles feedback from your school community, the next step is to analyze what you have learned and explore ways that your Excellence Team can make school improvements and better engage families throughout the year.

Essential viewing: Excellence Lesson 2: Analyze your community feedbackWatch the video or review the slide deck to learn tips, tools and steps that will help you analyze your survey and/or listening session data.

As part of your Community Feedback Form, you will be required to share key takeaways from your results and analysis. Consider key themes that emerged from your survey results and/or listening sessions.

  • What do respondents appreciate about family-school partnerships at your school? What would they like to change? 
  • What surprises you about your results and why? 
  • In what areas is your PTA already succeeding? How can you use that success to enhance other areas of opportunity?

Through these discussions, your Excellence Team will pick one focus area to help you dig deeply and intentionally in your school improvement: education; health, safety and well-being or diversity, equity and inclusion. Choose an area of focus that you believe best represents the needs of your unique school community generally and as evident through the community feedback your gathered.

Under your chosen Focus Area, you will also select a minimum of one goal, aligned to your chosen National Standard. Refer to page 4 of the Program Leader Guide (en español) to find a complete list of the Focus Areas, Standards, and Goals. 

Essential viewing: Excellence Lesson 3: Select your Focus Area and National StandardWatch the video or review the slide deck to learn more about why you select a focus in the program and to explore recommendations and real-life examples from 2022-2024 Schools of Excellence.

We understand that your focus area may change after the Nov. 15 Community Feedback Form deadline, and that is fine. You will have an opportunity to share your intended goals and action plans during Step #3..

Analyze Community Feedback – Complete the Community Feedback Form

By November 15, your PTA will submit your Community Feedback Form in the program platform, now available here. The form has two main components:

  • Your Survey Results: Share how many individuals you engaged, your method for engaging and your key takeaways. You will also verify you used the required community feedback questions in a valid manner.
  • Your Initial Goals: Share your chosen Focus Area, Standard and Goal/s.

Reference this SAMPLE Community Feedback Form (en español) to prepare to complete the form by the deadline at 11:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 15. Only PTAs that submit the required Community Feedback Form by the Nov. 15 deadline are able to move forward in the and remain in consideration for the 2023-2025 School of Excellence designation.

Verify the status of your PTA's Community Feedback Form with this running list.
 Click the link and choose "Export to: Excel" to access an automatically updated report.  

Step 3: Build an Excellence Action Plan and Check Back with Your Community (Throughout School Year)
Through program Step #3 your PTA has three objectives:
  1. Develop and implement your School of Excellence Action Plan to increase and improve family engagement in your school community.
  2. Complete the optional Share Your Plans Form to share with National PTA your progress through the program.
  3. Check back with your community to understand the progress you have made (required) by redeploying the required survey questions. 

Essential viewing: Overviewing Step #3: This Lesson aims to overview Step #3, including requirements, recommendations and tools for building an action plan and frequently asking questions. Watch the recording or review notes and the slide deck.

School of Excellence Action Plan

Upon completing your Community Feedback Form, your Excellence Team will use the feedback from your school community to develop your Excellence Action Plan to strengthen family-school partnerships. 

Each Excellence Action Plan will look different, as each school community is unique. However, all actions plans should align to your community feedback results and best practices in family engagement, specifically the National Standard and Goal you selected in Step #2. 

National PTA does not require your PTA use a specific format for your Excellence Action Plan, but this ready-to-customize template action plan is a good place to start! 

Take Your Action Plan to the Next Level

Use this SMARTIE Goals planning resource to explore how to craft effective and measurable goals that will advance your PTA's efforts. Or, for inspiration, check out these example Excellence Action Plans from past designees: 

Use the Roadmap to Excellence

The online Roadmap to Excellence is a resource guide that directly relates back to the community feedback questions, the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the provided Focus Areas.

As you develop your plan, make sure that your work is aligned with your community feedback results and the National Standards. Think about what work will have the greatest impact on increasing family engagement and will improve and/or maintain your results. You will later be asked to explain the measurable outcomes produced as a result of this work in the Community Impact Form (Step #4).

Share Your Action Plans with National PTA

Later in the winter, you and your Excellence Team will have the opportunity to complete the optional Share Your Plans Form to share your program goals and progress with other participants and National PTA. Responses will be compiled, anonymized as necessary and shared with the larger cohort to further collaboration and information sharing.

This is a great opportunity to touch base with your Excellence Team to document your progress, celebrate your accomplishments and ensure you are set up for success in completing the final program steps. 

Check In With Your Community

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

Your PTA is expected to meet the same requirements outlined in Step #2 to collect as many survey responses as possible using the required feedback questions in whatever methods (survey and/or listening session) that works best for your community. 

Consider Step#2 to Improve Your Community Feedback Collection

This time, to prepare for collecting feedback from your community, discuss with your Excellence Team your process and experience through collecting feedback in Step #2. Consider:

  • What ways did I communicate with my school community during Step #2?
  • What methods were most successful and what methods were least successful in reaching and collecting feedback from our entire school community?
  • What school communities did we miss and how can we improve our connection with these communities to collect their feedback this time around?

Your answers to these questions should help you and your Excellence Team improve how you are gaining community feedback. 

Share Your Accomplishments and Reason For Collecting Feedback
To support your community feedback efforts, we recommend reminding your community about the School of Excellence program and outlining what you have accomplished so far. 2022-2024 School of Excellence designee, Haslet Elementary PTA, created this flyer to accompany their survey. You can also modify this template School Community Letter (en español)

 

Step 4: Reflect On and Summarize Your Progress (March - June 15)

More information and resources will be available later in the program. 

Through this program step your PTA has two objective:
  1. Analyze the community feedback you received when you checked back in with your community (Step #3), as well as your progress through the program.
  2. Complete the required Community Feedback Form by the June 15 deadline.

Reflect On Your Progress 

Once your Excellence Team has implemented the bulk of your Excellence Action Plan, collected further feedback from your community, you and your Excellence Team will analyze your results and reflect on your progress through the program.

Begin with your initial community feedback and compare it to your recently gained feedback. In your discussions, focus on your progress and success to outline your greatest accomplishments in the program.

Summarize Your Progress - Complete the Community Impact Form

In order to remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit your PTA’s Community Impact Form through the online program platform. The form will be available May 1 through June 15. In order to remain in consideration for the designation, you must submit this application by the deadline.

Through the Community Impact Form, you will share with National PTA your Community Feedback Results and your narrative describing the progress you made through the program.

Once National PTA has received your Community Impact Form by the required deadline, we will begin the review process. You will be designated as a School of Excellence if you successfully completed the first four of the five steps to the program and are considered in good standing by your state PTA.

Step 5: Celebrate Your Excellence (Aug.)

Celebrate!

By mid-August, National PTA will announce the PTAs who are designated as 2023-2025 National PTA 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 program opens in the Spring at PTA.org/Excellence.





Excellence Communication and Training Resource Bank

 
Use the drop-down menus to find saved program training and communications from National PTA.
   
2023-2024 Trainings Bank
  • Step #3 Excellence Lessons
  • Step #2 Excellence Lessons —
    • Selecting Your Focus Area: This Lesson covers Step #2, specifically selecting the Focus Area and National Standard around which your PTA will build an Excellence Action Plan. Hear tips and recommendations, as well as real-life examples from 2022-2024 Schools of Excellence. Watch the video or review the slide deck
    • Analyzing Community Feedback: This Lesson overviews how to analyze your community feedback collected through the required survey questions or listening session questions. Your analysis of the feedback you collected will be highly important to creating an impactful Excellence Action Plan. Watch the video or  review the slide deck.
    • Gathering Community Feedback: This Lesson overviews the Step #2 and provides helpful information around the provided, and required, methods for gathering community feedback, as well as the fundamental role your results will play in completing the School of Excellence program. Watch the video or review the slide deck




National PTA is Here to Support You

 

All National PTA programming is ready-to-go and comes with a team of support, allowing you to focus on what matters most – your families. We stand beside you along the way, so lean on us, because together we make the biggest difference.

Along with the information and resources available to you through your school community and PTA networks, make sure you are utilizing everything made available to you by National PTA:

  
Contact Us

As a PTA leader, you know your school community best! You know what programming is most needed and how best to bring your families together. But know, you are never alone!

We're here to help every step of the way! Contact Excellence@PTA.org.