Administrators in Greenville County Schools, South Carolina, deploy a team of instructional coaches to schools that have been identified as needing support, District Administration reports. The initiative, called Focused School Support, is designed to help teachers improve during a two- to three-year intervention.

The initiative started in 2017 after test scores revealed students in high-poverty Title I schools were underperforming. The approach provides targeted, multi-tiered support with monthly meetings with school leaders, instructional coaches and academic specialists.

After reviewing data, the team conducts classroom observations and instructional modeling and coaches teachers in multi-week cycles. The program starts with teachers who are enthusiastic about receiving coaching, who turn into advocates for the program. Several schools have exited the program and continue to show positive outcomes.

Instructional coaches and teacher leaders are playing a larger role in professional development and research indicates it makes a difference. Though schools spend between $74 and $181 million dollars a year on professional development, there is little evidence that shows the PD improves instruction and teachers claim the programs aren’t relevant.

Instructional coaching, on the other hand, may impact the way educators teach reading, science and math. Qualitative evaluations show coaches can help instructors apply standards-based policy into their daily teaching strategy. There is also evidence that instructional coaching can help close the equity gap.

Read the full article about low performing schools by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.