In 2018 and 2019, The Learning Collective partnered with Discovery Charter School (DCS) on a couple projects. We developed a three-year academic plan, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, and evaluated the extent to which that plan was implemented during the course of the plan’s first year. In the summer of 2019 we then worked with the board, school leaders and teachers to develop a multi-year strategic plan. In 2021, based in part on The Learning Collective’s work, DCS’ charter was renewed for an additional three years!

DCS, a Rochester NY charter school grades K-6, serves a high poverty student population. DCS asked The Learning Collective to help develop a common vision and clear roadmap to student success and charter renewal.

The customized strategic planning process included two stages.


In this phase, the school community defined the school’s preferred state. Facilitated by Adam Aberman – and informed by the TLC DCS External Review Report #2 (February 2019), the Democracy Prep Public Schools School Audit Report and the latest benchmark assessments – the school developed DCS’s updated vision and mission. Through online document editing and in-person focus groups of board members, school leaders and teachers, we defined the elements that were, and should stay, unique to DCS while keeping an eye toward continually improving student outcomes. The updated mission is succinct and clearly understandable by all stakeholders (including students in the upper grades); the finalized mission statement passes the “t-shirt test” by being printable and legible on a t-shirt.


Facilitated by Adam Aberman, DCS determined the desired outcomes and next steps to meet DCS’s updated mission. Specifically, through in-person focus groups, DCS determined SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound) Goals. To support the SMART Goals, through in-person focus groups, online document editing and conference calls that included board members, school leaders, teachers and parents, DCS developed a range of Action Steps. Adam Aberman coalesced the recommendations into a draft document that the board and school director studied, and provided input on, leading to a final version of the strategic plan.