The PA Essential Practices Self-Assessment
Pennsylvania has adopted the PA Essential Practices as a framework for formative feedback and informing school improvement efforts. While the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) highly encourages all schools to use the PA Essential Practices for Schools and their Communities, schools designated for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Title I schools designated for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (A-TSI), and the districts that support and manage them, are required to use the PA Essential Practices for Schools as an integral part of a comprehensive needs assessment.
One important note, for schools designated as CSI and A-TSI, the assigned school improvement facilitator (SIF) will support the school through their needs assessment. A CSI or an A-TSI school will notice resources that refer to the facilitated self-assessment (FSA). The FSA is simply that, a self-assessment that is facilitated by an external partner.
Throughout the needs assessment/FSA, the school team needs to continue to reflect upon the sources of data to inform decision-making and address the problem of practice. The needs assessment is not always a linear process. Rather, as a team learns more about themselves through this self-assessment, it might uncover more questions. It is important to allow enough time for this process to allow for a deep understanding of strengths and challenges.
The Essential Practices for Schools and Communities by the Pennsylvania Department of Education is a valuable resource for schools and school systems while they are assessing needs and strengths.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) highly encourages all schools to use the PA Essential Practices for Schools and their Communities, schools designated for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Title I schools designated for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (A-TSI), and the districts that support and manage them, are required to use the PA Essential Practices for Schools as an integral part of a comprehensive needs assessment.
The data gathered through the Essential Practices Assessment process will help schools and local education agencies (LEAs) understand the current status of the implementation of evidence-based practices. The evidence-based strategies foster sustained improvement in teaching and learning for all students and assist school communities in identifying priorities for improvement that will lead to improved teaching and learning for all students.
The guiding questions and resources below can help in the effective facilitation of a needs analysis.
A school does not currently have a culture of using data. How can a team begin to more effectively use data to move beyond assumptions?
The PA Data Powershots are a valuable resource to support schools and districts in growing and refining their data practices. Another resource to explore is the Harvard Data Wise Project and its corresponding tools and resources. Education Elements offers a Data Culture Guide that helps schools and systems develop a comprehensive data culture.
What are the Essential Practices?
What sources of evidence might a school want to consider as they prepare?
The Preparing for the Essential Practices Assessment document provides a list of evidence sources that a school may want to consider.
I have never supported or led a school in doing a needs assessment before. Is there a resource that would help me facilitate this for the first time?
The PA Essential Practices Self-Assessment Guide provides a step-by-step guide for conducting a self-assessment for the first time. It is important to note that this guide is designed for a school going through the self-assessment for the first time, not a school that has been working through a school improvement process over time.
What are ways by which a school can determine whether it is operational in each Essential Practice?
The Essential Practices for Schools and Communities Rubric is a tool that allows schools to better understand the strengths and areas of growth within the Essential Practices.
What does operational look like for each of the Essential Practices?
The Indicators of Operational Implementation provides an overview of what operational looks like.
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