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What is the difference between strategic planning, long-range planning and multi-year planning?

The major differences between the three types of plans are the school’s knowledge of the present educational environment, the plan’s scope and the level of detail.

A strategic plan (the spaceship) establishes a vision for the school when the school is not completely sure of the rapidly changing dynamic educational landscape.  This type of plan strives to position the school to define its future and to be able to respond to these dynamic changes.  A strategic plan is transformative in nature and extends out at least 3-5 years. The details of the plan would be supported by a long-range plan.  An example of this type of planning would be school mergers or international partnerships and/or campuses. 

A long- range plan (the jet) is narrower in its vision than a strategic plan because the school has fairly- reliable knowledge of the future educational landscape.  This type of plan moves the school toward improvement so that it can meet its needs in the future and generally extends out approximately 3 years. It contains goals, action steps, and budgetary implications to help the school achieve long- term sustainability and often feeds into a more visionary strategic plan. The movement of a school from a traditional educational program model to a program model that addresses 21st century learning skills across all grade levels and program areas would be an example of a goal found in a long-range plan.

A multi-year plan (the helicopter) is based upon very reliable information about the immediate educational landscape.  This type of plan is more geared to maintaining the viability of the school rather than moving it forward. It extends out 1-3 years and consists of achievable yearly goals, action steps financial implications, persons responsible and benchmarks. The yearly review of a specific curriculum area would be an example of a goal or action step in a multi-year plan.


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