A District Transitions Planning Guide

Who Should Use This Guide? This transition planning guide helps district leaders work with district and school teams to develop a data-informed back-to-school transition plan that supports the engagement of students and families who lost out on significant learning opportunities due to Covid-19. The plan will also address longstanding disparities in access to educational resources. 

Planning for the fall and subsequently a year-long transition is an opportunity to use the current situation to build back better.

Why A District Approach: Covid-19 not only laid bare existing inequities for marginalized students and families, it further exposed the frailty of the systems that need to be in place to support positive conditions of learning for all students in every school, so that students are more likely to attend or participate. In order for schools to successfully navigate the transition back to school, they need consistent and aligned district-level policies, practices and support. The 2020-2021 transition back to school will require more attention to districtwide infrastructures that make sure schools are equipped to take a trauma-informed and restorative approach to meet the needs of students and families.

More than ever before, in order to enable equitable outcomes, district leaders will need to: advocate for additional funding; prioritize and allocate their resources differently; streamline and align district initiatives; utilize new data metrics; engage students, families, school staff and the community as problem-solving partners; disseminate best practices and make sure a system of tiered supports is available for every school.

How Should This Guide Be Used? This guide offers a process for using our Five Ingredients of Systemic Change to take stock of your situation and create a tailored plan that builds on the strengths and realities in your community. We recommend the following steps.

Four Transition Planning Steps
  • Convene a Transition Team This can be an existing, new or reconfigured team. It should be cross-functional, bringing together district leaders from departments that may not often work together. The team ideally represents all segments of your district (instruction, student support, family engagement, data management, special education, and Title I) along with members of your community (parent leaders, early childhood providers, health providers and community partners) and reflect your school’s demographics.

  • Review the Five Key Ingredients of Systemic Change Prior to the meeting, ask team members to review the guide and the description of the key ingredients so they understand how each needs to be adapted during the Covid-19 era. Click on the key ingredients below to learn more.

    1. Capacity building
    2. Actionable data
    3. Positive engagement
    4. Strategic partnerships
    5. Shared accountability
  • Identify Priorities for Action We recommend identifying priorities for action by taking stock of how well your district currently addresses each of the key ingredients. We encourage each member of the team to fill in the District Transition Attendance Analysis Tool and review the results as a team with a designated facilitator. The facilitator should help compile results and then make sure the team has a chance to note areas of agreement and talk through differences of opinion. Next, the team can use the Transition Planning Tool to identify priorities and timelines, based on an analysis of the  district’s particular strengths, realities and challenges.       

    If time and resources for planning are limited, consider using the district Transition Planning Worksheet instead. This worksheet can be used to help identify urgent issues and other factors that need to be considered as you revise, adapt and develop a plan for the fall semester and the year ahead. While the worksheet can be completed more quickly, it does not offer the same in-depth insights that emerge from using the analysis tool.

  • Communicate Your Priorities to Your School Community Share your capacity building priorities and activities with the entire school community so everyone can understand how the district is responding to current realities and learn how they can participate. See this resource page for tips.