Indistar News

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NCStar (Indistar in NC) makes the press!

“There are active coaches from the state overseeing the whole thing, so this isn’t an improvement plan that’s just going to sit on a shelf,” said Elizabethtown Middle School Principal Elizabeth Cole, whose school has already been implementing the…
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Nine SEA teams joined staff from the Center on Innovations in Learning and Academic Development Institute for a 2 day work session recently in Lincoln, Illinois! Although the new format was far from the old previous annual Indistar Summits, it was no doubt a success by all accounts.  Teams came, they rolled up their sleeves, and really dug into the work.  We could not have asked for more!  

Due to their hard work and dedication to improving education in their states, teams are now known as Indistar Pacesetters!  Check out the complete set of pictures, resources, materials, and agenda on the CIL website, under the Events tab!

We also welcome all Indistar Pacesetters to give us their thoughts and let us know about your progress! 

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Indistar - Just got a little better!

Hello Indistar® Teams! 

We’ve been thinking lately about how much Indistar® has evolved over the years. It is amazing, and Indistar is what it is today because of YOUR input.  So we thank you! 

 Due to YOUR requests, we ‘ve made a couple of improvements.  We wanted to let you know about them because many of you are in the process of training your districts and schools.  You can use the Bulletin Board feature to make sure your districts, schools, and coaches are aware of these new updates!

 Update 1 - Scrolling through the reports on the Coaching Review page:

We opened up each report on the Coaching Review page to allow for seamless scrolling…no more returning to the top of the page to navigate to the next page.  This will allow coaches, districts, and state administrators to view these reports as they complete coaching comments, reviews, and critiques with less time spent moving between pages.

 Update 2 - Quick Start Tab:

Everyone is looking for a map to know where to go and what to do! The dashboard and Main Menu pages now have a new green tab.  The new tab includes a link to with lots of great resources; hints for new Leadership Teams on how to get started with Indistar (or for experienced Leadership Teams, how to keep on track); and links to three documents which explain 1) the process of Getting Better Together™—the heart of Indistar, 2) navigating through the Dashboard, and 3) navigating through the Main Menu (with tips on what needs to be done as information changes and what should be done continuously).  

So go…log in…and check out the new updates!  And don’t forget to use the Bulletin Board to let your teams know!    


We always love to hear from all of you! Every once in a while we pose a question and get your thoughts.  So here is the one for today:

 How has this process (Indistar®) influenced how your state team works together?   Please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!  

Thanks everyone! - Steph

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You Don't Want To Miss This News

Recently Sam Redding announced some "coming soon" updates and features to Indistar. You will want to know about these.

Regional/Intermediate Unit Level to Indistar. The State of Washington, as many of you learned at the Summit, has engaged its regional centers in assisting districts and schools with Indistar. But Indistar has had no regional level. So we have worked since last fall to create a regional center level between the state and the district. Coming soon.

Easy Download and Aggregated Reports from Forms. Nearly every state uses the form feature in Indistar—forms completed by districts and schools that are submitted to the state, including those that are reviewed. The state will “soon” be able to push a button and download the data from all the schools (or districts) that have completed a form. And we will be able to create forms from which the state can generate an aggregated report.

Classroom Observation Tool. This one has been in the works for a long time—a tablet-based, classroom observation tool tied to indicators. Summer 2015.

13-Month Graphs of School Activity for States. We recently added a red School Activity button to the State Admin site. Push the button, select a date range, and you get a snapshot of various data points for all schools in the state. “Soon” you will be able to push a button and see this data on a 13-month graph.

Links to Videos. Indicators in Action and Indicators Now include videos of principals, teachers, and parent leaders demonstrating and discussing 144 indicators of effective practice. This is all available on website. We are now beginning to link the videos to the indicators in Indistar, just as Wise Ways are linked.

Wise Ways. Over the past year, we updated more than 100 Wise Ways, with a new format that includes Explanations and Questions and updated research. We will “soon” post another 40 new Wise Ways, and these are from the SIG/transformation set.

More big news:

Those of you who attended the Indistar Summit in March heard from the Arkansas team that they were conducting a pilot of Indistar in 191 schools this year. Based on the success of the pilot, the Commissioner and Legislature approved the expansion this coming school  year to all districts and schools in the state. We hosted a team from Arkansas and from the South Central CC this week to plan for this major undertaking. This is a very exciting endeavor for all of us.

And Finally:

The Center on Innovations in Learning is collecting and posting Indistar Success Stories about Indistar schools across the country. Go to the CIL website at and see the Indistar Success Stories link at the very bottom center of the page. Several more stories are in the works, so check back.

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If you attended the national Indistar Summit last week, you saw the Arkansas presentation about their project in 197 Indistar schools. In your packet you would have found a report about the project that included some bar graphs of data tracking the schools’ progress. And you love data! And graphs!

So, if you have login access to your State Admin site, you will find a new, bright red button that says School Activity. One click and you will see the kind of data that Arkansas uses to gauge the progress of schools.

The School Activity report includes just a few data points, but very important ones. Are your school Leadership Teams meeting with reasonable frequency and recording their minutes? Are the teams completing the tasks they have included in their plans? Are they meeting their objectives and providing evidence? Are they receiving comments/reviews from district and/or state coaches? These are the variables that matter.

Take a look. If you don’t have access to the State Admin site, ask someone who does to generate the report for you. The report can be set for any start and end dates.

Then think how your state team can use the data for data-based decision making to help your schools ingrain sound continuous improvement practices.


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See if this doesn’t sound ideal for helping the good people in a school to continuously improve what they provide their students. A Leadership Team of the principal and lead teachers meets twice a month and maintains its agendas and minutes in an Internet-based system so that they are easily viewed by all the team members. The team focuses on full implementation of a host of indicators of effective practice, and, over time, with each implementation, the quality of the school gets better and better. A helpful coach from the district or state looks in the Internet-based system to see how the team is doing and offers useful comments and suggestions. Internet videos show the indicators in action. All the teachers and parents can enter the system through the Guest Login, so everyone understands the always-evolving plan and knows their role in the school’s continuous improvement.


Sounds good, doesn’t it? Where is its Achilles heel? There are two ways this “best laid plan” can go astray. The first is that the simple logistics of meeting, using agendas and minutes, and focusing on improved practice are ignored. The second is that the team is more interested in painting a rosy picture for the state than improving what it provides students. Logistics and candor. Logistics and candor.


Think how your SEA can move your districts and schools toward greater responsibility (logistics and candor) for their own improvement. In the many reports on the State Admin site (including the Progress Query), you can easily track what they are doing. Logistics and candor. How do you bolster both?


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Dear IndistarConnect Members--


Yesterday and this morning, our great community was spammed by a person(s) who created multiple accounts, took advantage of our direct messaging feature, and sent inappropriate messages directly to many of our members. This person(s) did NOT have access to your email address or any account information. Again, they used the message-to-message feature available to our community.


So far, we have taken the following steps to prevent this from happening again:

  1. Deleted all malicious accounts
  2. Temporarily disabled the messaging feature within our community (therefore, no member can direct message another member until we examine additional security measures). However, you can still direct message with those whom you have "friend" requested and who have accepted your "friend" request. 

We are determining additional ways we can protect the privacy and security of our group, including enhancing member signup procedures. 


We are very sorry for any inconvenience or disturbance this has caused. If you have any concerns or suggestions for us as we move to protect our community, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.


Thank you,

Larry, Mark, Maureen





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Keys to Success for Indistar Schools

  1. School Leadership Team meets regularly (typically twice a month) to review multiple data sources, including evidence of indicator implementation, monitor progress, and guide continuous improvement of professional practice.
  2. School Leadership Team dialogues with the coach and district liaison via coaching comments and reviews.
  3. Instructional Teams meet regularly (including large blocks of time) to review student performance data and develop and refine differentiated instructional plans and formative assessments.
  4. Principal provides direction for the teams, focuses on instruction, builds leadership capacity of others.
  5. Teachers implement effective instructional practice, guided by indicators.
  6. Coaches (including district liaisons) regularly review the work of the Leadership Team and provide guidance, reflection, pressure, and support.
  7. Teachers, parents, school board members, and district personnel review reports through the Guest Login to stay abreast of the evolving plan and offer feedback.
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The Heart of the Matter

Behind every successful school, there is a strong Leadership Team. When ADI developed Indistar, we started with this idea—for schools to improve, there needs to be good leadership at the heart…and that leadership includes the Leadership Team. Look at our indicators:

  • A team structure is officially incorporated into the school improvement plan and school governance policy.
  • The Leadership Team serves as a conduit of communicate to the faculty and staff.
  • The Leadership Team shares in decisions of real substance pertaining to curriculum, instruction and professional development.
  • The school’s Leadership Team regularly looks at school performance data and aggregated classroom observation data and uses that data to make decisions about school improvement and professional development needs.
  • The Leadership Team monitors school-level student learning data.

ADI believes in the power of a knowledgeable and capable Leadership Team that operates in a culture of candor. Because we believe in the Leadership Team, the changes we’ve made to the system recently have been very deliberate in supporting and enhancing the work that the Leadership Team does by making navigating Indistar just a little easier. We created the Snapshot report so the team can see at a glance what work they’ve been doing and what needs attention. We created the Celebrate Report to remind teams that everyone needs a pat on the back and to celebrate when goals and tasks are accomplished. Just recently you received the announcement that we included Mission Statements and Goals, so teams can personalize their work and reiterate what is important to their district, school, and community. We added Spotlight Indicators so teams don’t get lost in the long list of indicators looking for the objectives they want to concentrate on. We created the Leadership Team Page (with their own login) to make information that the team needs for those candid conversations readily available. And now, at long last, we are rolling out an updated Agenda and Minutes platform to make it a more pleasant and easy process to create an agenda and post minutes after the meeting. We’ve been busy this past summer, but it has been rewarding work because we believe it will enhance the Leadership Team’s efforts.

AND as a bonus, we recently rolled out a new search engine that is available at (look under Resources for Research, Reports, Tools Search Engine). A link will also be available on the Indistar login page and under the Resources on the Guest and Leadership Team Page soon. In this search engine, we’ve included vetted resources, research, and tools under many topics of interest to SEAs (check out Capacity & Productivity or Indistar/State Level), Districts, (Indistar/District Level), Schools (Indistar/School Level, Family Engagement, Improvement & Turnaround, Innovations in Learning), and Coaches (Indistar/Coaches). We are continuing to load the search engines with new articles every day, and if you, your principals, your schools, your teachers, or your districts have tools they have used successfully, send them our way, and we will add them to the search engine. Once again, we want to enhance your work by providing the resources that add value and ease to your work. Attached is a short PowerPoint that explains how to use the search engine. If you have any questions, please contact your Indistar shepherd.

Best wishes for a successful start to a new school year!

Pam Sheley

Leadership Team Meetings_Indistar

ADI Search Engine PowerPoint

ADI Search Engine Topics

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Indistar Budget Estimator

Thank you to all who were able to sit in on the recent webinar regarding the Indistar Budget component. It was very important for us at ADI/Indistar to stay true to ourselves and the intent of Indistar… a continuous and sustainable improvement model. The Budget component is not intended to be a school or districts’ main budget plan, but rather a way for leadership teams to know that the dollars they are spending for school improvement efforts are truly based on effective practices and processes that can build sustainable ways.  If you are interested in knowing more about the Indistar Budget component being added to your current Indistar contract or for general questions, please contact Stephanie Benedict at  or 217-732-6462 ext. 32.

You will not be able to respond to this Blog Post in IndistarConnect.


ADI/Indistar would also like to thank the Arkansas Indistar team… Elbert Harvey, Bobby Lester, and Miss Jayne Green for their continued partnership throughout this project.

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An example of how one of our school districts is supporting and publicizing their use of Indistar.

We are planning to share this web page with other districts to illustrate how a district leadership team can support their schools using Indistar.


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