Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is Indistar?

    Please refer to this page.

  • How was Indistar® created?

    Indistar® was created by ADI, working directly with several state education agencies and revising the system as the states engaged their districts and schools with the process. ADI continues to constantly upgrade the system in response to states’ needs and suggestions. ADI also tailors the system to specific state’s needs as much as possible.

  • Who uses Indistar®?

    A state adopts the system. The system is then available to all districts and schools served by the state. The system takes on the state’s identity, and users access it through the state’s own website. The system connects users from all levels to establish a coherent and high-functioning system for improvement. One person from each Leadership Team (district or school) is designated to serve as Process Manager. The Process Manager interfaces with the system to prepare team meeting agendas, worksheets, and Wise Ways®. The Process Manager also enters the team’s minutes and work plans into Indistar®. Coaches (engaged by the school or provided by the state, district, or charter organization) are given access to the system so that they can follow the progress of the work and provide coaching comments and reviews for the team. Superintendents and principals are given full access to the system. The district, or school may also issue “guest” logins to groups—teachers, parents, school board members, for example—who can then view progress charts and reports without editing data.

  • How is Indistar® organized? What is its structure?

    Indistar® is built around the core functions performed by each level of the education system, effective practices at each level, and indicators of effective practice. A core function is a central, operational purpose of a state, district, or school. An effective practice is a way of operating (related to a core function) that is shown by both research and evidence in real-world application to contribute to student learning. An indicator is an observable expression of a practice, something concrete that indicates that an effective practice is in place.

  • How is the system customized for each state?

    The system is entered via login and password through the state’s website and displays the state’s name and the name the state chooses to call the system. The state may use the indicators provided by the system, its own indicators, or a combination. The state may also include its own rubrics in the system and specify a subset of indicators as “key indicators” to be given special emphasis. The state determines which consulting roles will be utilized in the system; for example coaches for district Leadership Teams, coaches for school teams, mentors for rapid improvement principals, and district liaisons to school teams. Also, the state may add other reporting requirements to the system so that districts and schools may use one portal to prepare and submit all required reports.

  • How do you ensure that practices are aligned with research?

    ADI and states have spent the time researching and identifying the behaviors and practices that result in improved teaching and learning so that the district and school can spend its time implementing them; practices are aligned with research and best practice via Wise Ways® summaries embedded in the system and available for download.

  • How do you assist a growing number of districts and schools in need of improvement with limited staff and resources?

    Indistar’s web-based technology does the traveling so that people don’t have to, allowing coaching, monitoring, and reporting via the web.

  • How do you efficiently differentiate supports to address each district’s and school’s unique needs?

    Indistar® provides parallel tracks for schools requiring rapid improvement (turnaround) and those on a continuous improvement trajectory. Additionally, the state may specify “key indicators” that are given special emphasis. The system will also provide different tracks for high school, middle school, and elementary school.

  • How can you establish a “turnaround zone” with Indistar®?

    Indistar’s special features for schools in rapid improvement include a planning tool for the principal based on turnaround leadership research, with coaching from a rapid improvement mentor; the system can be targeted for use in schools in the process of turnaround or transformation.

  • How will Indistar® help advance a district’s or school’s goals?

    Goals are typically constructed around a district’s or school’s core functions, such as Leadership, Curriculum, Professional Development, or Instruction. They are often broad statements that advance a mission. Specific, detailed actions are then necessary to attain a goal. Indistar® drives the specific, detailed actions. Indistar’s indicators of effective practices are research-based ways of doing things that add meaning to global goals. The indicators of effective practice are specific, plain language guideposts, aligned with research. In fact, the indicators are so specific that they can be easily assessed, clearly aligned with people responsible, set to timelines, coached, and tracked for high-quality implementation. Specificity matters.

  • How many core functions, effective practices, and indicators are there?

    A state can populate the system with its own set of indicators, use those developed by ADI, or a combination. The indicators developed by ADI are organized into the following tracks:

    • District Improvement: 1 core function, 4 effective practices, 38 indicators
    • School (Continuous Improvement for schools making adequate progress): 5 core functions, 17 effective practices, 168 indicators
    • School (Rapid Improvement for schools needing a steep improvement trajectory): 4 core functions, 14 effective practices, 82 indicators
    • Rapid Improvement Leader (principal): 1 core function; 4 effective practices, 14 indicators

    When states provide their own district or school indicators, or create their own template from those provided, the number of indicators typically ranges from 20 to 40 for districts and from 40 to 100 for schools.

  • How does the coaching feature work?

    Each track includes a coaching feature that allows an external coach to offer feedback to the Leadership Team’s work. Coaches are first approved by the state to have access to the system. For example, the state may designate a coach to assist a district or school team. The coach then reviews the ongoing work of the team and offers comments. The Process Manager is alerted by email that a comment has been entered by a coach, and the team can then reply. The system maintains a thread of the dialogue between the coach and the team, and the comments can be saved or printed as a report. Coaches may also enter more extensive Coaching Reviews.

  • How can the system be used as part of district or school improvement planning,

    especially to satisfy Title I requirements?

    The cyclical improvement process means that the Leadership Team is always working on its indicators—implementing, monitoring, and improving its plan. This is not a plan that is prepared annually, submitted, and then re-written a year later. It is a continuous improvement process. However, snapshot reports can be generated to demonstrate that an effective plan is in place at a particular point in time. When the superintendent or principal submits that report, notification is automatically delivered to the state administrative page, and the state can access the reports. Not all Title I planning requirements are covered by Indistar®; therefore, additional reports may be added and are submitted in the same fashion. Typically, assurances and one supplemental report are the only additional reports needed to comply with Title I district and school improvement planning processes. Again, these reports can also be submitted through the system and provided to the state. The state may choose to review a report in the system, and the system allows for an exchange between the state reviewer and the district or school until it is accepted for final posting.

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