Preparing for the Needs Assessment
Within the Future Ready Planning Portal, schools are required to examine multiple layers of data as they work through the needs assessment. A challenge for schools is determining what data is needed to address their challenges. To effectively and efficiently assess needs, schools are encouraged to begin their needs assessment process through a decision-driven thinking process. The school teams need to define their questions and use the questions to collect more pertinent data that will help them uncover the answers and analysis of data for decision-making.
In the book, Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation, the authors provide a framework for organizing and analyzing data.
Level 1 is Satellite Data. Satellite data is at a large grain size, illuminates patterns, and leads the school team in a general direction for further information. For designated schools (CSI/ATSI/TSI), the satellite data could be the data used in the determination of the designation and exit criteria. Examples of satellite data are attendance data, broad standardized assessments, graduation rates, and disciplinary records such as referrals and suspensions.
Level 2 is Map Data. Map data is at a medium grain size, which helps to identify student skill gaps and instructional skill gaps or teachers, in a slightly more focused way. Examples of map data include local reading and math assessments, and parent, student, and teacher surveys. The link provided here provides access to surveys aligned with the PA Essential Practices for Schools and Communities. NOTE: CSI-designated schools should have received school-specific survey links. Please contact the CSI assigned SIF if your school team has not received them.
Links to school improvement surveys in PDF format are found here:
Level 3 is Street Data. Street data are “the qualitative and experiential data that emerges at eye level…These data are asset-based, building on the tenets of culturally responsive education by helping educators look for what’s right in our students, schools, and communities instead of seeking out what is wrong.” (from Street Data by Shane Safir & Jamila Dugan, 2021) Examples of street data include feedback from learning walks, student-teacher interactions, student and parent interviews, and focus groups.
In order to have an effective needs assessment, teams should ensure that they have reflected upon what sources of data the school needs to address the challenges and strengths of the school. This should include data at all three levels (satellite, map, and street). An example of what this might look like can be found here.
For CSI and A-TSI schools, the school improvement facilitator is an important support to assist schools with the analysis of data. As each layer of data is explored, school teams are able to better determine their priorities and address the root cause challenges that are impacting their learners.
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