Actions Steps

It means that the school has well-established, exceptional systems in place to support the following beliefs.

  1. Every student will be proficient or advanced in reading, writing and math.
  2. The academic accomplishments of every student is an obsession.
  3. The school can neutralize many challenges that students bring to the classroom.
  4. Student achievement is the number one topic of conversation.

The six exceptional systems that a NEU Network Schools has to demonstrate are:

  1. A culture of universal achievement
  2. Collaboration
  3. Standards alignment
  4. Assessment
  5. Data Management
  6. Interventions

Action steps currently being developed in our schools

Culture of Universal Achievement

  • Create a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) to endorse as a staff
  • Make a list of excuses you’ve made in the past and commit to fighting against them as a staff
  • Decide upon one clear set of rules and a common language that align with the specific character traits and model them to students
  • Create one universal classroom management plan
  • Block off 15 minutes every day for morning meetings that educate and model expectations to every student.


  • Create a one-page, exceptional system for collaboration based on 4-6 commitments of how staff will treat each other and work as professionals
  • Establish routines of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly collaboration for staff as well as leadership teams
  • Devise a template for agendas based on action
  • Begin each collaborative effort by celebrating successes and laughing with each other and end with action steps for the future
  • Create a plan to practice candid collaboration as a staff

Standards Alignment

  • Create an exceptional system that aligns standards at each grade level
  • Generate a template for grade levels to use as they align their standards
  • Schedule opportunities for vertical articulation around standards
  • Ensure that all staff members agree on what mastery of each standard looks like and how it will be taught
  • Share standards daily with students in practical ways


  • Create an assessment team made up of representation at each grade level or department
  • Determine which assessments you value and why
  • Devise clear schedules to both deliver assessments as well as analyze them
  • Implement a plan to develop individual goals for all students
  • Make sure that every assessment is aligned to a specific way of involving students in the process

Data Management

  • Create a database that is easily accessible to staff
  • Schedule at least 3 times a year to openly share data between the principal and individual teams
  • Design templates that are deliberately arranged to convey data in a way that encourages action
  • Post various data results throughout the school on a consistent basis
  • Ensure that data is readily available for students and parents


  • Create an intervention support team packed with “doers” committed to results
  • Design an intervention master schedule that creatively lowers the student to teacher ratio
  • Shape routines that correlate the success of each intervention with the specific data point
  • Develop interventions that deal with social and emotional challenges impeding academic success
  • Establish a “community collaborative” that meets monthly to find ways to link organizations who want to give with families in need

In addition to building exceptional systems, schools will also work on the following activities:

Powerful Symbolism

  • Remove all clutter in classrooms and around campus
  • Establish a day each week as “NEU days” where all students and staff wear school shirts or college spirit clothing
  • Hang college flags and banners on every door in the school
  • Develop a list of inspirational quotes, have students vote on their favorites, and place them prominently throughout campus
  • Declare your commitments publicly and market your school in the press

College Readiness

  • Have every classroom adopt a university and refer to that class by the university name
  • Determine the years each grade graduates from college and refer to them as “graduating class of 20__”
  • Develop a yearly college and career fair that involves colleges and community members
  • Make a plan to take specific grade levels on yearly field trips to college campus (or related work programs)
  • Hold mandatory Parent Forums rolling out all of your college readiness plans and expectations as a school

Character Traits

  • Communicate college readiness character traits throughout the school including assemblies, events and communications
    • Respect
    • Responsibility
    • Kindness
    • Honesty
    • Courtesy
    • Compassion
    • Composure
    • Perseverance
    • Ambition
    • Integrity
    • Dependability
    • Humility
    • Resilience
    • Flexibility
    • Loyalty
    • Resourcefulness
    • Initiative
    • Grit
    • Candor
    • Stewardship

Other No Excuses components that might be in place at schools

  • Morning meetings
  • School Pledge
  • Staff/student code of conduct
  • College vocabulary
  • College readiness activities appropriate to age of students
  • Evidence of student goal-setting
  • College Readiness in school handbook