Practice Activity: Leading a Problem Clarification Process
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Write a needs assessment

When you have completed the data analysis and problem clarification processes with your staff, you now have the data to write your needs assessment. Typically, a needs assessment is the pre-requisite to writing a school improvement plan. The priority instructional needs identified in the analysis of the MSPAP data drive the goal setting for your new plan. The high impact problem identified in your problem clarification process drive the strategies that you try to reach your goal.

A needs assessment identifies the priority instructional need(s) based on your MSPAP data analysis and the high impact problem(s) your staff believed to be a major reason for your low performance in that area. It should include the following information:

  • A description of the priority areas of need based on your data analysis
  • A description of the process you used to engage your staff, parents, and students (where appropriate) in identifying the problem(s) at your school
  • A summary about where your school is in relation to the five conditions that need to be in place to hit a target
    1. Do all staff understand the target? (What is being assessed; how it is being assessed (and scored); and what a satisfactory and excellent student performance looks like)
    2. Do all staff know how to teach what is being assessed?
    3. Do all staff know how to assess where students are on this content/skill?
    4. Are all staff monitoring progress of individual students on what is being assessed?
    5. Do all staff provide interventions for students not demonstrating mastery?
  • The highest impact problem(s) that your staff identified in the problem clarification process
  • The evidence you had that supported your hypothesis(es)

The following illustrative needs assessment was based on performance data form Pine Crest Elementary School.

You may wish to use the following rubric developed by the Center for Leadership in Education at Towson University to evaluate your needs assessment.

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