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

We're so happy to have these nearly 900 PTAs enrolled in the 2019-20 School of Excellence program.

The Initial Application link is NOW OPEN! Be sure to complete Step #4: Completing the Initial Application by the new and final November 22 deadline.

Here is a running list of PTAs who have submitted the Initial Application. Learn more under Step #4 in the toolkit below. Be sure to complete this critical step in the process by November 22 in order to remain in consideration for the School of Excellence designation.

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 - note final change of dates)

Once your Excellence Team has determined your focus area and shared objective, you will submit your results through the online link below. The link will close November 22. 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.

  • The Initial Application link is now open HERE.
    • Enter the PTA ID# listed in your enrollment form as follows: PTA ID #
    • 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 2 pages. Click submit to get to the next page and submit, once again, to complete the application.
      • You can go back and edit your application with your PTA ID # through the November 15 deadline.
      • WEBINAR -  Register for this pre-recorded webinar to learn more about Steps #2-4.
  • This is a sample document only.
  • Email from National PTA - The Initial Application link is open now thru November 15
  • Email from National PTA - Compete your Initial Application by November 15
  • Email from National PTA - Two weeks left to complete the Initial Application
  • Email from National PTA - One week left to complete the Initial Application
  • Email from National PTA - Deadline Extended to November 22 for Initial Application 
  • This is a running list of PTAs that have completed the Initial Application and remain in consideration for the School of Excellence designation. Only the primary Program Leader will receive an email confirmation of receipt.

 

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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  • Take notes as you work through your action plan and consider using organizational tools like these to help you stay organized and on track. 
  • Recommended Trainings
    • Coming Soon - Stay tuned for webinars on how to complete Step #5 and more on the Four 'I's!
    • Have a chance to hear from the 2019 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Winner - Mark Twain Elementary PTA - selected by a team of past National PTA Presidents as the #1, top School of Excellence last August. Mark your calendar for this Q&A phone session on December 4 at 1PM EST (10AM PST). Join with https://pta.zoom.us/j/999647190 or call (888) 475-4499. Check back here for a recording.
    • 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.
    • Learn more about the Four 'I's for Transformative Family Engagement
  • 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!
  • Take pictures of your Excellence work and share on social media with @NationalPTA, #PTAExcellence and #PTAProud.

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.

  • 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 and the progress you have made in the program   
    • Thank your school community for taking part in the School of Excellence program to improve family-school partnerships 
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 on 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 on May 1.
  • Tips for writing your narrative (COMING SOON)
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.