A strong indicator of school success is a clear and focused vision. In charter schools, the governing board leads the school by implementing the vision and mission. For the vision to be purely implemented and sustained over time, a variety of stakeholders must be involved in defining the school and then ensuring the vision is implemented.
The board implements the vision and mission by establishing policy. Further, the board's strategic plan communicates specific short-term and long-term goals. The principal, in turn, communicates the vision and mission to staff, students and parents. The principal does this on a daily basis with specific, measurable goals. The vision should guide all decision making.
Research indicates a sustainable environment requires a strong leadership group, not just a single individual (e.g. principal) or a small group of individuals (e.g. governing board). Schools must have a leadership team with true ownership in how the school is run. Marzano calls this a "Professional Learning Community" and in his books, articulates who is on the PLC, the role these key leaders serve, and the outcomes they determine.
Some schools exist simply because they always have. Some neighborhood schools believe that because they must serve all types of students, they are like a smorgasbord and the result is that they're not "great" at anything. Successful schools know what they're good at and how to deliver that product in a quality manner. If they haven't reached the "great" category yet, these successful schools have a laser-like focus on student achievement based on factual data, periodic assessment and clear goals. These leaders don't guess what's right for increasing student achievement, they do their research and make decisions based on what research or best practice has already indicated works well.