Our Work

School Improvement

School Improvement

School Improvement

Mass Insight’s School Improvement services are organized around our Theory of Action©, which describes seven elements that our work with hundreds of schools, districts, and state education agencies over the last decade indicate are critical for schools to accelerate performance. Our team of former teachers, school and district leaders, and policy experts work alongside our partners to understand context and conditions. Together, we help our clients build coherence, capacity, and networks that improve student learning. For more information on School Improvement Planning, read our Road Map to Developing a School Improvement Plan here.
Need help with an equity audit?

Need help with an equity audit?

Our Equity Audits help school and district leaders create the individual and collective action necessary to meet the diverse needs of students, staff, and families. The process and tools help districts and schools focus on policies and practices that expand equitable access to quality educational opportunities. Watch this video and read this blog to learn more about how  one school district built support for addressing equity gaps. Read this blog about questions to consider to ensure a quality audit.  You can download more information about Mass Insight’s Equity Audits here.  
Equity-First Transformation

Equity-First Transformation

For 25 years, Mass Insight (Mi) has worked to improve schools, districts, and state agencies around the country to change the life trajectory of historically marginalized students by addressing issues of equity in education. As we continue in our aim to dismantle education systems that were not designed for all children to thrive, we seek to support educators, students, families and other key community stakeholders in designing sustainable systems change that create the conditions for liberated learning experiences. Click here to read our overview of our new line of work, Equity-First Transformation.

Supports for Schools and Districts

We work closely with stakeholders to offer a mix of strategies and supports designed to help schools improve and meet the needs of today’s students:

Mi works with each school to understand its unique context and needs in order to conduct a cost-effective School Readiness Assessment (SRA). We use focus groups, surveys, observations and data to assess the strength of the 7 elements of Mi’s theory of action for school improvement. Schools receive a report that identifies strengths and challenges for each element, as well as high-leverage recommendations. The report sets up strong school improvement planning.

Mi facilitates school improvement planning that addresses the root causes of low performance. Our process includes four critical stages: diagnostic, root cause analysis, strategy and goal setting, and action planning. An expert facilitator guides a school’s leadership team through each stage of the process, ultimately producing a strong plan.

Mi assesses district capacity and strength on the 10 elements of Mi’s research-based district framework through surveys, focus groups, interviews with school and district stakeholders, and data. Our report provides an evidence-based assessment of district capacity on each element, surfaces a limited number of priorities, and makes high-leverage recommendations. Districts often use this review as a starting point for strategic planning.

We help school and district leaders create the individual and collective action necessary to meet the diverse needs of students, staff, and families. Much like diagnostic reviews, our equity-centered process and tools help districts and schools understand the current reality of equity; identify policies and practices that build upon current foundations and strengths to meet diverse needs; and provide recommended next steps a district can take to strengthen its equity lens and expand equitable access and outcomes.

We work with district leadership to engage stakeholders, facilitate root cause analysis of low performance, and develop a coherent theory of action and strategies to improve performance. Our team has extensive experience working with leaders to build stakeholder voice and investment in the plan and manage the plan to impact – what we call performance management.

We believe sustainable change requires school and district leaders and teams to take ownership for the success of the plan. To sustain continuous improvement and build capacity, we help establish a regular monitoring process, create data tools, and provide protocols and training.

Mi works with schools and districts to develop the capacity of instructional leaders to implement and monitor school-wide instructional change. We believe that ILTs play a critical role in implementing the school improvement plan (SIP), and in building consistent, aligned, and rigorous instructional practices. We provide tools and training to maximize the ILT’s potential.

Mi works with districts to build the capacity of principal supervisors to coach principals on the skills, knowledge, and systems required to lead school improvement. Mi provides principal supervisors with ongoing coaching, support, and tools. We help district executive leadership build or strengthen management structures to ensure that principal supervisors have the necessary time and authority to improve principals and schools.

Mi helps districts develop and support zones. Zones provide schools with the conditions necessary to address the causes of low performance. Mi facilitates and helps districts select zone schools, identify the conditions needed, develop district policies, establish a zone office, and support zone staff with implementation. Mi also engages both community and school stakeholders in zone planning and implementation.

Mi has synthesized what goes into a great instructional coaching system, and where there are common pitfalls. We work with schools and districts to bring best practices to life through intentional design, training, and custom performance management systems aligned to our framework. Our tailored supports integrate elements of improvement science, networked improvement communities, and the instructional rounds model.

Mi staff has extensive experience in rural regions, and we believe that rural schools and districts have a critical role to play in developing the next generation. We offer all of our services and supports to rural districts and schools with customized plans tailored to the district’s size, capacity, and budget.

Supports for State Education Agencies


Mi assesses the extent to which an SEA is maximizing its available resources to develop the capacity of LEAs and improve school performance. We begin with our 7-point framework, developed with SEAs through our state development network; we also offer significant customization to assess particular SEA initiatives, programs, and divisions/offices. Our reports provide a limited number of high-leverage recommendations and are often a starting point for strategic planning.

Mi helps SEAs identify and use their leverage to help build the capacity of LEAs and improve the performance of schools. Mi’s work with SEAs varies widely, including development of SEA school improvement strategy, theory of action/theory of improvement, performance frameworks, or performance management systems that allow the agency to focus, measure, and manage their strategic efforts.

School Improvement Results

Aurora, Colorado

Mi has been in partnership with Aurora Public Schools (APS) since 2015. Our key work there has involved the design, implementation, and support of a zone of the district’s lowest-performing schools; this included leading a process that leveraged the state’s innovation act to secure the necessary conditions for improvement at each school. APS and the five participating schools have achieved a number of successful results related to the development of the first ACTION Zone in the district. Behavioral referrals decreased by as much as 39% and out-of-school suspensions decreased by as much as 49%. Both secondary schools successfully decreased drop-out rates, with Aurora Central High School reducing the rate by half. Aurora Central High School, which was the lowest performing high school in the state at the start of our partnership and in its final year on the state accountability clock, improved by a full level in the accountability system and avoided state takeover.

Providence, Rhode Island

In Providence, Rhode Island, Mass Insight conducted a three-year capacity-building project where it 1) improved the process for monitoring schools to better align state requirements with district supports; 2) led the development of the Office of Transformation and Innovation, which supports schools turning themselves around and incubating new schools; and 3) analyzed central office supports to schools, culminating in a report to the City of Providence about the need to transform the central office.

Evansville, Indiana

In Evansville, Indiana, where Mass Insight has been working since 2012, the school system experienced the largest gains in the state's accountability system and is now the highest-performing large, urban school district in the state, and the number of failing schools has decreased by approximately 50 percent.

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

According to the 2014-2015 District Report Card issued by The Louisiana Department of Education, the number of failing schools in Jefferson Parish, where Mass Insight began working in 2012, decreased by more than half–from 50 to 22–since 2011. The district rating also improved from a “D” to a “B.”

Discover how Mi can help
your school or district improve.