August and September are two of the busiest months for school and district leaders who are welcoming millions of students for the start of a new year. Naturally, these leaders are strategizing, setting goals, and prioritizing their work to improve student outcomes. To address these demands, NYCLA uses its proprietary School Diagnostic Process to support new leaders upon entry to their schools.

While originally designed to support NYCLA’s federally-funded New York City Targeted Intensive School Support/Teaming Model, the diagnostic process and associated tools are applicable to a broader client base. The process outlines how teams should work with their school leadership coaches or district leaders to synthesize and analyze school-specific data (both quantitative and qualitative) and identify priorities to improve student achievement. The School Diagnostic Process is a powerful tool that provides a framework for entering a school with an inquiry stance, uncovering patterns and trends in school practice, and identifying levers for change. It is a crucial guide for new school leaders to understand existing systems and structures – or the practices that are in place and at play – in the school.

Numerous benefits can exist for the leaders who participate in the diagnostic process. For example, school leaders can quickly identify critical areas for improvement as well as areas of moderate to high performance that can be leveraged. The process helps school leaders to both identify “quick wins,” or simple but significant changes that set the foundation for long-term improvement, and consider structures for continuing schoolwide data collection and analysis data.

The diagnostic process is designed using NYCLA’s systems approach to change, which utilizes an analytical framework that explores the interconnections between various aspects of a complex system – in this case, a school The diagnostic process guides school leaders and their teams in uncovering what is beneath student performance and progress data and in designing an improvement strategy that addresses all of those layers.

The graphic below shows the five interconnected stages of the diagnostic process:


Although the diagnostic process is driven by principals and their leadership teams, the tool and questions that it surfaces are intended to engage other stakeholders. In this way, diagnosis, action planning, and evaluation become tools for stakeholder engagement as well as embedded practices throughout the school community.

Contact us for more information on the School Diagnostic Process and how it can help you set school priorities in the years to come.