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Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) Process and Resources

DTSDE Tenets of Effective School Systems and Practices

Tenet 1 – Systems and Organization: Effective schools establish school-wide systems and structures that promote continuous improvement and success for all students.

Tenet 2 – School Leadership: Visionary leaders create a school community and culture that leads to success, well-being, and high academic outcomes for all students.

Tenet 3 – Curriculum: Effective schools provide students with rigorous, coherent, and relevant curricula that prepares all students for success.

Tenet 4 – Instruction: Effective teachers engage with students in a manner that promotes mastery and allows students to stretch their knowledge and deepen their understanding.

Tenet 5 – Social-Emotional Learning: Effective schools develop a systematic approach to Social-Emotional Learning to ensure that all students can develop social-emotional learning skills necessary for success within and beyond school.

Tenet 6– Parent and Community Engagement: Effective schools develop a systematic approach to Family and Community Engagement to empower parents to effectively advocate for their child’s learning and for the improvement of the school.

DTSDE Framework 

The DTSDE Framework outlines effective practices organized along the DTSDE Tenets. The framework is a reference tool to assist schools in examining the practices and engaging in reflective dialogue to improve practice.

DTSDE Phases of Implementation 

The DTSDE Phases of Implementation is a companion document to the DTSDE Framework. While the Framework provides a reference to organize educators’ thoughts around the various practices of effective schools, the Phases of Implementation serves as a tool to assist educators in planning as they consider the appropriate next steps for the school.



The Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) is a research-based process that has served as the cornerstone of New York State’s school and district improvement efforts since its development in 2012. 

The comprehensive DTSDE process serves as the foundation of the improvement cycle by providing an in-depth analysis of the quality of the school’s educational offerings. The DTSDE process involves a team of reviewers, with one representative from the State Education Department and one representative from the district, to examine closely multiple components of school success through the use of comprehensive research-based DTSDE Framework

Teams visit classrooms and meet with stakeholders to provide their feedback on the quality and the effectiveness of the education offered to students, as opposed to visiting a school with a checklist for compliance purposes.  This process allows the schools to reflect on both what is being done and how it is being done. This process also provides opportunities to ensure that schools are culturally responsive to the needs of the community. 

The review process relies on clearly defined protocols to ensure consistency across New York State. Throughout the implementation of the DTSDE, the State has used feedback from the field to enhance the process.  Based on feedback and lessons learned from initial implementation, the State made refinements to the tools used and to the visit schedule to ensure that the review process is as beneficial as possible to schools and districts. As part of this shift, the visit has gone from evaluative to a technical assistance opportunity.  As a result, the review process is now much more of a collaboration between the team of reviewers and the building principal.