Department of Defense Education Activity

Goal 2: School Excellence

Teacher pointing to smart board

School Excellence

DoDEA is dedicated to developing and sustaining high-performing schools with innovative, collaborative, and caring cultures. DoDEA will pursue School Excellence through four Strategic Initiatives: Professional Learning Communities/ Focused Collaboration, College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS), an Instructional Leadership Development Program, and a safe and secure environment for learning and working. These Initiatives directly address DoDEA’s need to provide a safe and secure environment while facilitating workforce development opportunities for educators and delivering world-class instruction to students. DoDEA is committed to guiding educators and administrators as they grow their practices by providing high-quality standards and curriculum accompanied by targeted professional development. Professional learning and CCRS will ultimately benefit students as they strive to meet their highest academic potential.

Focused Collaboration

Focused Collaboration is a structured form of collaboration that empowers educators to make data-driven and input driven decisions while working together to improve teaching effectiveness. It relies on the support of its participants to create an environment that improves adult and student learning. During Focused Collaboration, educators work together to solve problems and determine how to weave together the intricate pattern of curriculum, standards, and assessments coupled with the interpersonal feedback that drives excellence. This process is critical to school success and the ability to maintain an agile and supportive environment. DoDEA is formally in its fourth year of system-wide implementation of Professional Learning Communities/ Focused Collaboration. This initiative requires sustained attention, resources, and leadership in order to maximize its potential for increasing both adult and student learning. The urgency behind this initiative is underscored by Cognia’s, the agency that provides accreditation to DoDEA, School Quality Factors (SQFs) that are used to evaluate DoDEA districts. The SQFs emphasize the importance of a positive and collaborative culture for school excellence.

College and Career Ready Standards

The implementation of new standards for all subject areas and grade levels is a process that takes time. Over the last six years, DoDEA has aligned standards, instructional resources, professional learning, and assessments to support the full implementation of College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) in all subjects and grade levels. In school year 20/21, DoDEA will finish the rollout of materials aligned to the CCRS. DoDEA will continuously improve CCRS implementation with a focus on intentional planning, professional learning needs assessments, and improvement of the Learning Walkthrough tool.

Instructional Leadership Development

Every educator has the right and responsibility to lead. DoDEA cultivates a sense of shared leadership between teachers, administrators, and the Center for Instructional Leadership (CIL) through professional learning. For those teachers whose career paths lead to administration, additional professional learning will also be available. The Leadership Development Program will address the gap in learning that new administrators face in managing the daily business operations and personnel issues that arise when leading a school. Additional opportunities are also available for existing principals to refine their practice as instructional leaders through the CILs. As a result of this Strategic Initiative, educators will experience individual growth opportunities as leaders at all points during their careers.

Safe and Secure Environment for Learning and Working

DoDEA will continue to provide a safe learning environment for students and employees through the Comprehensive School Security Plan (CSSP). The CSSP was developed with the input of various civilian and military experts and will proactively identify threat trends, employ security tools, and respond to contingencies. Lessons learned from COVID-19 will be incorporated to develop and prioritize this Strategic Initiative.

DoDEA is dedicated to developing and sustaining high-performing schools.

Goal 2- Strategic Initiative 2.1: 

Focused Collaboration — Provide leadership and support for the continued implementation of Focused Collaboration in all schools.


Critical Success Factors:

  1. Quality Implementation of Focused Collaboration: To assess progress towards a shared understanding and high-quality implementation of Focused Collaboration, we will develop and apply an established observation tool and use the results to strengthen a culture of collaboration.
  2. Integrate Continuous Improvement into the Daily Work of Districts and Schools: We will strengthen the connections between the daily work of implementing standards, assessment, and Focused Collaboration by integrating the DoDEA Continuous Improvement Process with the Comprehensive Planning Process.
  3. Ongoing Professional Learning: In order to ensure teachers, school administrators, district educators, and professional support staff address student learning needs, we will conduct ongoing professional learning and support for Focused Collaboration at every level with fidelity to expectations.
  4. Assessment Literacy: By providing tools and information during Focused Collaboration, we will help teachers effectively use student learning results to inform instructional changes.
Goal 2- Strategic Initiative 2.2:

College and Career Ready Standards — Provide leadership and support for the continued implementation of College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS).


Critical Success Factors:

  1. Professional Learning Needs Assessment: In order to foster change in practice, we will conduct assessments of adult learning needs to inform the design and delivery of CCRS professional learning for teachers, school administrators, and district specialists.
  2. Aligned Standards-Based Instruction System: As we promote student learning through the implementation of CCRS and provide support for educators, we will align all components of a standards-based instruction system including standards, curriculum, 21st Century instructional practices, assessment, and interventions.
  3. Comprehensive Planning for Program Implementations: To provide focus for Headquarters, district, and school improvement planning, we will create a continuous systemic review and improvement cycle for standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment program implementations that aligns with the DoDEA Comprehensive Planning Cycle.
  4. Continuous Improvement of the DoDEA Learning Walkthrough: In order to improve our shared understanding of what works best for student learning and spread innovation throughout the system, we will support networks of educators that learn and problem-solve together.
Goal 2- Strategic Initiative 2.3: 

Instructional Leadership Development — Provide professional learning to increase leadership capacity and management skills.


Critical Success Factors:

  1. Instructional Leadership Professional Learning: We will provide professional learning on instructional leadership and support for principals, assistant principals, and district leaders to strengthen their skills to lead teaching and learning in every school.
Goal 2- Strategic Initiative 2.4: 

Safe and Secure Environment for Learning and Working — Maintain a community culture that prioritizes a safe environment in which students and employees can thrive and succeed.


Critical Success Factors:

  1. Establish Shared Responsibility for School Security: To identify areas of shared responsibility for the safety of students and employees, we will work with military and community partners to create agreements and implement initiatives that proactively address the safety and security of our employees and students.
  2. Effective Physical Security Technology and Protocols: In order to equip school communities to proactively address harmful situations, we will provide schools with the necessary safety and security tools and technologies and will engage with the community to track trending issues and to improve our response.