Using Technology Tools to Improve Resource Allocation Decisions

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1 Upper Darby School District Using Technology Tools to Improve Resource Allocation Decisions MARCH 24, THE DISTRICT MANAGEMENT COUNCIL

2 Staffing levels in schools have constantly increased, and account for the vast majority of district spending. Pupil Teacher Ratio in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools 30.0 Overall Student/Teacher Ratio students per teacher 14.9 students per teacher 0.0 2

3 Setting and applying staffing guidelines can increase transparency, effectiveness and efficiency for resource allocation decisions. Example: Typical district Detailed Staffing Guidelines Vague Elementary class room teachers Principals Middle school core teachers Assistant Principals Guidance counselors High school teachers Middle school noncore teachers Elementary specialists (art, music, etc.) Psychologists Special education Paraprofessionals Related services Reading teachers ELL teachers 3

4 DMC Tools help create and operationalize staffing guidelines. DMC Tools address 8 challenges across 4 domains General Education Staffing 1. Staffing Middle School and High School Teachers 2. Staffing Elementary Classroom Teachers 3. Staffing Elementary Specialists Special Education and Other Interventions 4. Staffing Special Education, ELL, Title I, Reading, and Other Intervention Staff 5. Managing Social Workers, School Psychologists, and Other Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Support Staff Scheduling 6. Scheduling Special Education and Other Intervention Staff 7. Managing the Role and Schedule of Paraprofessionals Training 8. Engaging Stakeholders in Making Thoughtful Resource Allocation Decisions 4

5 Thoughtfully staffing secondary teachers requires detailed analysis of course specific enrollment by school and teacher certification. 1. Staffing Secondary Teachers TYPICAL The volume of course level enrollment data can be overwhelming. Staffing decisions are often influenced by current staffing, not student needs As enrollment and course selections shift, staffing often remains or increases, but seldom drops. Over-staffed departments often split one regular-sized class into two small classes or assign teachers to hall or lunch duty. Understaffed departments, however, demand more staff. Visibility of non-core staffing is even less transparent than core subjects. Course proliferation can create under-enrolled sections. Singleton course can soak up excess staff capacity. The DMC tool revealed in one district non-core classes at the secondary level were overstaffed by 25%, while core staffing was over and under actual need in most departments, and overall 8% overstaffed. 5

6 Secondary staffing should be based on actual course enrollment, and thoughtful course offerings. 1. Staffing Secondary Teachers with DMC Technology Tool Import course selection data from district SIS. District sets class size criteria. Calculate staffing requirements by department and school. Identify under-enrolled courses. Analyze course proliferation. Can run what-if scenarios. 6

7 Managing elementary classroom staffing by moving from broad averages to microanalysis. 2. Staffing Elementary Classroom Teachers TYPICAL Target average class size, such as 24 students per room. Often there is no target or policy for enrollment levels, and aren t easily divisible by the target, such as 50 students in a grade (i.e. two classes of 25 or three of 16/17, when target is 24). Staffing patterns tend to be maintained at each school, year to year, despite changes in enrollment. Districts are quicker to add when enrollment rises than reduce when enrollment drops. The DMC tool revealed 10% overstaffing (based on existing district targets) and after deep cuts and a detailed review of staffing by the central office. 7

8 Microanalysis tightly matches staffing to enrollment and forces thoughtful decisions for ambiguous cases. 2. Staffing Elementary Classroom Teachers with DMC Technology Tool Actual enrollment by grade and school uploaded from SIS. District sets average, min. and max. class size targets by grade. System forces decisions for ambiguous cases. Run what-if scenarios to measure impact on budget and staff of different decisions. Identify under-enrolled special classes such as gifted and talented and ELL. 8

9 Staffing elementary specialists efficiently is difficult without cross-school analysis. 3. Staffing Elementary Specialists TYPICAL Elementary specialists such as art, music, PE teachers, and librarians are often hired and staffed at the school, not district level. Schools often hire a full-time position even when there is only a part-time need. Many districts do not enforce collective bargaining workload expectations for specialists, such as teaching only 20 periods a week when the contract calls for 25 instructional periods a week. Neither schools nor central offices have visibility into exact staffing needs across the entire district. The DMC tool revealed that 28 out of 32 schools in one district were staffing full-time positions when the need was less than full-time. Excess staff costs were $1,300,000 annually. 9

10 Link staffing of specialists to actual need and collective bargaining agreements for equity and efficiency. 3. Staffing Elementary Specialists with DMC Technology Tool Calculates exact number of periods required by subject and school. Calculates exact staffing requirements by school and subject. Identifies opportunities across schools for shared staff. Runs what-if scenarios to measure impact on budget and staff from creating larger class sizes for specials (but not core content). 10

11 Managing special education and other remediation staff requires very detailed data. 4. Staffing Special Education, ELL, Title I, Reading, and Other Intervention TYPICAL Staffing decisions require detailed data that is seldom available to district leaders, such as time with students, student need, and average group size. Most districts have few, if any, guidelines for how much special education and remediation staff is needed in each school, except for case load which is a very inadequate measure of need. Since leaders don t know how staff split their time between meetings and serving students, they can't manage this key aspect of their work. Some staff are unknowingly asked to work much more than their colleagues. Many special education teachers spend less than 50% of the school day with children and, in some districts, less than 1/3 of each week. 11

12 Determining how much special education and other remediation staff is required in each school is complex, but the process can be systematized. Student Services Hours of service determined by IEPs = Required FTE Group Size X Direct Service Are students helped in groups of 1,2,5? Hours/week each teacher spends delivering services to students 12

13 Small changes can lead to a big impact on staffing needs. Speech and Language Example Students Service Hours Required: ( ) Average Group Size: 300 ) X ( Direct Service Hours per Teacher: = 10.0 FTE 13

14 Small changes can lead to a big impact on staffing needs. Speech and Language Example Students Service Hours Required: ( ) Average Group Size: 300 ) X ( Direct Service Hours per Teacher: = 4.0 FTE In all cases, students receive the exact same amount of services and no IEPs were altered. 14

15 Managing time with students and average group size has a dramatic impact on staffing needs, but little or no impact on learning. Reading Teacher FTE Required for 325 Students Requiring Tier 2 EXAMPLE Groups taught per Day Average student group size x FTE 15

16 Some service delivery models lead to equal or higher achievement using far fewer resources, but few districts manage service delivery as part of staffing decisions. Number of teachers required for 100 students to receive extra help 10 Least effective Most effective Push-In Pullout Double Time (2 periods of instruction from a general education teacher) 16

17 Fast, accurate data collection coupled with thoughtful guidelines adds precision to staffing decisions and how students are served. 4. Staffing Special Education, ELL, Title I, Reading, and Other Intervention Staff with DMC Technology Tool Teachers enter a typical week s schedule into an online tool. The analysis engine calculates key metrics such as time with students, time in meetings, and average group size. District sets targets for workload, time devoted to meetings, and target group size. Staffing by role and school is calculated based on specific student IEPs and other needs. Run what-if scenarios to measure impact on budget and staff of different guidelines and service delivery models. 17

18 Social and emotional needs of students have increased dramatically in recent years. Districts have responded with increased staffing. 5. Managing Social Workers, School Psychologists, and Other Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Support Staff TYPICAL In many districts these specialized staff have no clear reporting lines or direct supervision. Most districts lack a data-driven plan setting staffing levels or building allocations. In some districts, over time, meetings with adults crowd out helping students. Some staff spend 5x longer doing the same task, such as evaluating a student or writing an IEP. The DMC tool revealed that in one large district most social workers spent over 90% of their time in meetings, despite an expectation by district leaders that the majority of their time would be with students, and that some psychologists completed 3x more evaluations a year than others, despite similar other responsibilities. 18

19 Without closely managing time for meetings, services to students can suffer. Counseling services 3 hours/ week Principals identify need Analysis conducted Social workers hired Meetings dominate Increased behavior problems are interfering with learning School psychologists are doing testing nearly full time More staff required to meet student needs New staff to meet social and emotional needs of students (26 hours/ week) IEP meetings School-based team meetings Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings Planning for meetings 19

20 All districts have significant paperwork and compliance requirements, but some districts devote more time than others to these tasks. Psychologists Person Days Spent Per Evaluation National Avg (est.): 1.4 Massachusetts Avg: 2.4 District A 5.4 District C 4 District I 3.8 District G 3.4 District B 2.8 District F 2.6 District H 2 District D 1.7 District E

21 Tracking time with students and benchmarking productivity of evaluation services can save dollars and increase services to students. 5. Managing Social Workers, School Psychologists, and Other Behavioral, Social, and Emotional Support Staff with DMC Technology Tool Staff provide typical work week into online tool as well as total number of evaluations conducted each year. Internal and external benchmarking evaluates productivity for testing and managing IEP process. Standard reports highlight time spent with students vs. meetings by person, school, and level. 21

22 Most special education staff are asked to build their own schedules, yet many aren t skilled schedulers. 6. Scheduling Special Education Staff TYPICAL Scheduling is a complex process that must balance many competing demands for student and staff time. Inefficient schedules increase staffing levels. Scheduling difficulties often result in smaller than desired groups or students with different needs grouped together. Staff-created schedules often favor staff preferences that may be at odds with district policy or student needs. A lack of visibility into staff schedules makes these practices virtually undetectable. The DMC tool has helped increase scheduling efficiency 20% without reducing a minute of service to students, while ensuring that only students with similar needs and ages are grouped together. 22

23 Matching sophisticated scheduling algorithms with student needs and school-level constraints increases efficiency, outcomes, and equity. 6. Scheduling Special Education Staff with DMC Technology Tool Student IEPs are imported electronically into the scheduler. School-level constraints such as lunch and mandatory meetings are imported. Districts set criteria for how to form thoughtful groups and when students shouldn t be pulled from class (such as during reading or math). Staff select their preferences for which schools they would like to work in. Schedules are generated, and can be viewed by district leaders and edited by staff. 23

24 The overuse of paraprofessionals is often spurred by the misunderstanding of the roles they play. 7. Managing the Role and Schedule of Paraprofessionals TYPICAL Most educators underestimate how much instruction is provided by paraprofessionals. Paraprofessionals are often assigned without consideration for other adults already assigned to the classroom, leading to extra staff being assigned. Many paraprofessionals are given one assignment a week (for the year, actually), even if the need is less than full time. In most districts no one manages or schedules paraprofessionals. The limited visibility into their actual work makes it especially hard to manage. The DMC tool brought to light that in one district paraprofessionals spent nearly 70% of their time as teachers, despite a central office expectation that they were primarily for behavior support. Another district learned that, on average, 40% of a paraprofessional's day was unassigned. 24

25 Tightly managing when and how paraprofessionals support students can raise achievement and free up funds for more effective interventions. 7. Managing the Role and Schedule of Paraprofessionals with DMC Technology Tool Staff report how they use their time and the role they play with each child they support throughout the week. The reporting functions identify when and to what degree paraprofessionals are performing duties that are and are not aligned with their qualifications, on para-by-para basis. The analysis engine pinpoints which paraprofessionals are underutilized and which classrooms have more adults assigned than required. 25

26 Managing resources smartly requires making tradeoffs. 8. Engaging Stakeholders in Making Resource Allocation Decisions TYPICAL Budget development often focuses on wants rather than tradeoffs. Budgets are not always aligned with the district strategic plan or top priorities. The financial impact of many budget decisions is often over- or underestimated. District leaders often shield others from wrestling with the tough choices. Often budget decisions are made without full understanding and buy-in from the district leadership team. The DMC tool has helped many principals and central office leaders make wiser budget decisions and support tough decisions more forcefully. 26

27 Simulation is a safe way to engage leaders in making wise budget decisions and surface fears and misunderstandings. 8. Engaging Stakeholders in Making Resource Allocation Decisions with DMC Technology Tool A sample district, modeled after the actual district, is created. District leaders are provided 50 plus options to shift funds and make investments. Calculates impact on student results, operational efficiency, and karma. Facilitated small group discussions bring seldom talked about issues to the surface. 27

28 Q&A 28

29 The District Management Council If you have any comments or questions about the contents of this document, please contact Nate Levenson, President, at The District Management Council: Tel: Fax: (617) Web: dmcouncil.org Mail: 70 Franklin Street, Boston, MA THE DISTRICT MANAGEMENT COUNCIL 29

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