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1. Is the Institute a place, as in a school?

The Curriculum Leadership Institute (CLI) has offices in Emporia, Kansas, but CLI is not a training site. The Institute is an organization for conducting ongoing research, and for providing on-site services associated with improving public, charter, and private school districts. As an institute, CLI is much different from regional service centers and other organizations that assist school districts with improvement strategies developed elsewhere. CLI consultants who provide services to districts are also active in ongoing research and development. They work as a team in continuously upgrading the CLI Model to connect proven theory to quality practice.

2. How did the Curriculum Leadership Institute get started?

The CLI was developed in Emporia, Kansas at Emporia State University’s Center for Educational Research and Service (now the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence) in the late 1980s. Its original school improvement model was created from research conducted between 1985 and 1989; the model has been continuously expanded and upgraded since then.  (See “About CLI”)

3. What makes the CLI Model different from other school improvement processes?

The foundation for the CLI Model is academic program governance, which is a decision-making and action-taking process – for school districts – that is based on solid organizational theory and practice. That process is different from what is practiced in most schools and districts today, so those interested in using CLI approaches are asked to modify their internal management culture. The model is no quick and easy solution to immediate concerns; it is a comprehensive strategy that takes time to establish.Through the governance process, CLI also leads district staff through the process of aligning instruction and assessments to the local curriculum in every subject area.

5. What are some typical kinds of issues you’ve helped districts address?

The CLI Model includes processes for addressing many kinds of issues. There are too many to list them all, but here are a few examples:

-Making sure the district has teachable curriculum
-Defining mastery
-Addressing grading and reporting issues
-Helping interpret standards so the curriculum can be accurately aligned
-Completing long-range plans
-Converting from site-based to district-based management
-Deciding how to effectively use professional learning communities
-Creating board policy for curriculum, instruction, student learning
-Deciding on the purpose and use of local assessments
-Assuring that instruction is deliberate and aligned

6. Do we have to go somewhere to attend one of your workshops, or will you come to us?

Occasionally we conduct open-enrollment workshops, which are open to anyone and held at a location the CLI staff has selected. However, the majority of our workshops are held on-site for districts that have asked us to work with them locally. It is more economical to bring one consultant to the district to work with, let’s say 30 people, than to send 30 people out of town to a workshop. If you are interested in having us present a workshop in your district, call or email the CLI office. (620.794.1431 or info@cliweb.org)

8. How long does it take to do the CLI Model?

Curriculum, instruction, and assessment are on-going processes that constantly evolve and improve, so the answer to this question might be “forever.” However, if we’re talking about training, start-up processes, and making sure a district is well on its way to success, we ask for a minimum four-year commitment.

9. How can we justify using CLI assistance if we already have a local curriculum coordinator?

CLI works hand-in-hand with the local curriculum coordinator to implement the CLI Model. It is understood by all stakeholders at the beginning of our relationship that the CLI consultant will “go away” after a few years, and that the curriculum coordinator will see to it that processes are continued. The CLI consultant continues to be available to the coordinator via phone or email to assure a smooth transition. The model becomes systemic and student success is uninterrupted.

10. Why can’t (shouldn’t) we just use state standards as our curriculum?

The standards are, of course, a foundation of your curriculum. However, many of them include vague terminology that is open to interpretation, making aligned instruction and assessment virtually impossible. Other standards are “bench-marked,” which means they are in grade-level clusters, with no clear direction for who does what. Most standards are also too vast… too great in number or scope for real learning to occur. It is important for educators to work together to analyze, interpret, and make decisions about the standards and the district’s actual expectations.  The CLI model is currently being used in many districts in order to translate documents such as the Common Core Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, local standards, and other external measures into curriculum.

11. How can you help us improve our test scores?

By showing you how to have an aligned, teachable curriculum, with aligned, deliberate and focused instruction, and aligned effective assessments.  Additionally, we help you establish a governing body to deal with all of the related questions and issues that accompany this triangle. (see question #5)

12. Is the CLI Model compatible with other recognized school improvement models?

CLI can incorporate a wide range of popular techniques associated with upgrading the quality of curriculum, instruction and assessment of student learning. However, CLI is extremely systemic and systematic in the way it works with those three aspects of a district’s functions, so it emphasizes the need for powerful and ongoing connections between and among all stakeholders and program elements. As a general rule, the CLI Model is more encompassing than other models, so districts are able to incorporate much of what was previously done to upgrade academic programs.

14. How are district administrators and board members involved with the CLI process?

More than most school improvement models, CLI emphasizes the importance of academic leadership at all levels in the district. While teacher leadership is certainly an important element, administrators and board members appreciate the expanded opportunities they receive to do more than manage the district’s budget, personnel, facilities, legal affairs, community relations, and other routine aspects important to a large organization. Recent school improvement initiatives at the national and state levels stress the importance of focusing on student learning as absolutely the most important mission of schools, and the systemic actions advocated and implemented by the CLI make that possible.