We enter into only a few partnerships with districts. We are a small organization and we know that we are most likely to make a positive difference if we expend the quality and quantity of effort necessary to support each partner district in making outstanding academic gains. We tailor each partnership in a manner that builds upon existing district initiatives so that schools experience focus and cohesion. Our frequent interactions with principals and school leadership teams are based upon the practices we have found in real urban schools that achieve both excellent and equitable learning results.
Our services are focused upon small groups of three or four schools within a district. We call these groups A-PLUS Networks. Minimally, an NCUST Executive Coach meets with each network once a month on the campus of one of the network schools. Additionally, the Coach meets monthly an individual basis with each principal. Also, we take our A-PLUS Networks to visit schools with similar demographics that we have awarded and studied. A-PLUS Networks become “professional learning communities” for school leaders, as they focus on improving school culture, curricula, and instruction in ways that generate strong learning results for every demographic group served. These data-rich conversations are designed to help principals and their leadership teams make clear, measurable progress toward excellence and equity.
We are interested in working with urban schools where large percentages of students meet low-income criteria and school leaders (working in collaboration with district leaders) are able to articulate specific, ambitious learning goals. We want to work with school and district leaders who are willing to work with us to pursue those ambitious goals, in ways that utilize lessons learned from some of America’s best urban schools.
Being a principal is hard work. Being a principal of an A-PLUS school is even more challenging, because it requires a constant willingness to identify, collect, and analyze data; a commitment to inspire, engage, and lead others to improve practices; and an openness to constructive criticism, lessons from research, and best practices of high-performing schools. Especially, principals must commit to spending a substantial time in classrooms. True instructional leadership starts where instruction happens: in classrooms. Simultaneously, we commit to providing principals support, utilizing all we have learned from the best practices of high-performing urban schools.
Costs vary depending upon the intensity of services, travel costs, and the various ways in which we might customize the A-PLUS program to district needs. NCUST is not a profit-making entity. Our costs are often substantially less expensive than other organizations. We enjoy designing tailored programs that work within a district’s fiscal realities. In some cases, we have engaged in contracts that provide 10 months of service for as little as $12,000 per school. In other cases, we are providing much more intensive support at a substantially greater cost.