Hit your target: how schools can exceed their goals in the new year

Setting innovation targets in districts: Hit your target in the new year ahead!

We all have goals, especially at the start of a new year! So we wanted to take a few minutes to share some of latest musings on how setting innovation targets in districts can support community engagement, empower those individuals that are committed to your organization, assesses progress, and ultimately exceed your goals. Setting targets for innovation in schools is a critical part of the change process, and with rapid cycle evaluation it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy. But it will take planning, forethought, and commitment from your organization. Here’s what we know…

Setting innovation targets in school districts

Setting innovation targets in school districts

Setting innovation targets in districts: A mission and vision are one thing.

A mission helps you and your stakeholders stay focused on a core goal. A vision provides movement and direction for shaping your culture, progress, and work. But your strategic plan is where it all comes together. This is where your mission and vision meet budgets, timeline, goals, metrics, and ties individuals to more than just tasks (it ties them to goals!). Districts have to do more than state what they stand for on their website, they have to funnel their work, priorities, and budgets towards what matters most. What matters most should be evident in your strategic plan as you set priorities and paint the picture of what you want the student, teacher, parent, and stakeholder experience to look like in your district.

Setting innovation targets in districts: Its not just about the document.

Having a mission, vision, and strategic plan is not just about having a document. It is about having a resource that will enable you to educate your community. A mission, vision, and strategic plan together will communicate to anyone that is interested (board members, administrators, teachers, new teachers, community partners, realtors, parents, etc.) what your school district is doing and why. Having these well thought out and connected resources make it possible for you to do more than “put out fires” and respond to disgruntled stakeholders. They will enable you to avoid such fires by having a clear “why” behind anything that you might do, and the ability to position your communication continuously around those common goals and themes. Internally, a strategic plan can help you to identify where you have competing priorities, where you are sending mixed messages, and where you have expectations with no budget line to support those expectations.

Setting innovation targets: As with any innovation there are always those that are committed first (almost before you ever get started).

They are the early adopters, the fearless that are willing to try, or the stakeholders that believe in your mission, vision, and plan. These are the people that need to be quickly empowered and supported to make your goals a reality. They may become models or they may become the group that fails fast. Regardless, if you have a group of committed individuals… EMPOWER them. Let them test materials, equipment, budget needs, sustainability, community buy-in, and more. But don’t just let them flounder – there is no reward for going first, so make it an empowering experience, and don’t forget to show your gratitude, support, and interest.

Setting innovation targets: Make sure you are assessing your progress.

We can’t even begin to tell you how many districts we see moving into a strategic planning process with no data. With mounds of evidence supporting that standardized test scores don’t make for good organizational improvement data we need to do more than see our state ratings of our schools to know where we are at and what we need to do to improve. Get a baseline! Better yet, have some metrics and measures that you believe in and that are relevant to your mission, vision, and strategic plan. You can paint a lovely picture of where you have been and where you are going, if you have the data to show there has been change over time. These don’t need to be costly, sophisticated measures, but thoughtful, purposeful, and most importantly informative. A quick check is to be sure that you have data that informs your mission, vision, and strategic plan. If you don’t have any data to inform those pieces that should be a sign that you have work to do, or the impact of your work ahead could pay the consequences. Make data driven decisions, monitor data to continuously inform, and tell your story with data (not just examples of practice).


We see a lot of districts exceeding their goals. But remember, you can’t exceed goals if they aren’t established! So create a plan, make connections, get your community invested, and remember that we are always here to help. Check out the technology plan we created for CCSD or touch base with us to see other planning documents we have helped to create. Our process is clean, we have experience, and we won’t use a template – we will customize the entire process to address your community needs and set you up to exceed your goals.

The new year is ahead, get started on the right foot.

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