Support for Step Zero: Problem Analysis (Why) Five Domains Guiding Questions Worksheet

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1 OVERVIEW Problem analysis is the phase of Step Zero where a team examines the policies, processes and practices of the organization that may contribute to a stated problem. This exercise is essential in determining the strengths and weaknesses of an organization in order to effectively plan for improvement. What is this tool? This document outlines a series of reflective, guiding questions for school and district teams to discuss. The questions are not meant to be completely comprehensive, but rather a guide to considering the key drivers for effective schools based on the best research available (see page 7 for references). The questions are organized into five domains: Effective Leadership Supportive Environment Ambitious Instruction and Learning Collaborative and Public Teaching Involved Families and Community Engagement How should this tool be used? Based on the team s understanding of the current state of the school or district during the problem identification portion of Step Zero, this tool can be used to prioritize which of the five domains need consideration. A team may choose to review one or more of the essential questions from each of the prioritized domains. The team begins by identifying data sources that may be available to inform an understanding of proficiency in each of the five domains. Considering these data sets may be helpful as the team answers the guiding questions posed, as supporting evidence should be provided to support each response. If a team has prioritized more than one domain, they may look for common themes and consider whether there are any root causes that 1) can reasonably be identified, 2) are within their control to fix, and 3) when fixed, will prevent (or significantly reduce the likelihood of) the problem s recurrence and ultimately lead to the desired outcome. Engagement in this tool may lead to the following outcomes: Development of goals that are aligned to indicators known to be drivers of sustainable, significant school improvement. Strong understanding of the root causes which are preventing the school or district from achieving better outcomes. Page 1 of 7

2 I. EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP Leadership at all levels work together to implement a clear and strategic vision for school success. Example(s): Meeting Agendas Guiding Questions: a. Consider the school s mission, vision and infrastructure: i. Is the school's mission and vision defined by leadership and communicated, modeled, integrated and focused on high expectations for student learning? ii. Does the school, with stakeholder involvement, have adequate and aligned material and fiscal resources, and instructional time to support the school s purpose and direction? iii. Does the school maintain facilities, services and equipment to provide a safe, clean and healthy environment for all students and staff? iv. Does the school have a leadership team that includes leaders and teachers in making decisions of real substance related to curriculum, professional development and instruction? b. Consider data- based problem solving: i. Does the school- based leadership team regularly look at school performance data and aggregated classroom observation data and use that data to make decisions about school improvement and professional development needs and support implementation? ii. Does the school select programs strategically and allow time for successful implementation? iii. Does the school reflectively study the effectiveness of plans developed to understand if the plan was implemented with fidelity? c. Consider trust and recognition: i. Does the principal celebrate the accomplishments of teachers, instructional coaches, teams, students, and the organization as a whole and provide incentives? ii. Does the leadership work to develop a climate where teachers feel trusted and trust the decisions of the principal? d. Consider instructional leadership and professional development: i. Are the principal and teachers active participants in the selection of curricula and ensure effective vertical alignment across grade levels? ii. Does the principal participate with teachers in instructional planning? iii. Does the principal work to select and retain highly qualified staff? iv. Does the principal understand instructional best practice and provide specific feedback on strengths and areas of growth? v. Does the leadership provide meaningful professional development for teachers, matched to need, that is focused on improved student success; includes pre- conferences, observations and post conferences (with feedback); and is focused and ongoing? Page 2 of 7

3 II. SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT The district/school is safe and orderly; stakeholders have high expectations for students and students are supported by administrators, teachers and peers. Example(s): School Climate Survey Guiding Questions a. Consider the infrastructure of the school as it relates to behavior management: i. Does the school provide an environment where students feel safe and respected by teachers and students? ii. Does the school have formal structures that are well established to ensure the safety of students both in and around the school? iii. Does the school implement a positive behavioral support system that is seamless from the school buildings to the classrooms? iv. Does the school implement a seamless multi- tiered system of supports (MTSS) focused on an integration of social/emotional and academic supports to fluidly meet the needs of all students? b. Consider data- based problem solving: i. Does the school provide support services to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of the student population being served? ii. Does the school monitor student progress and provide supports necessary for academic and behavioral success when needed? c. Consider high expectations: i. Do the school s leadership and teachers have high expectations for the success of all students? ii. Is the work that students are presented rigorous and equitable? iii. Are there high expectations for students to succeed beyond K- 12 education? (HS) d. Consider the school s climate: i. Is the school a welcoming place? ii. Does the school employ rules and implement them with fairness in regard to dealing with student behavior? iii. Does the school promote cooperative learning, group cohesion, respect and mutual trust? iv. Does the school have a research- based character education program? v. Does the school monitor teacher and student perceptions regarding school climate and respond as needed? Page 3 of 7

4 III. AMBITIOUS INSTRUCTION AND LEARNING High expectations for academically demanding instruction are supported and implemented. Student engagement is driven by emphasizing the application of knowledge. Example(s): Teacher Evaluation Observation Anecdotal Records Guiding Questions a. Consider the infrastructure of the school: i. Does the technology infrastructure support the school s teaching, learning and operational needs? ii. Is there Universal Design for Learning (UDL) infrastructure at the school to support effective Tier 1 instruction to ensure access for all? iii. Does the master schedule include additional opportunities for supplemental and intensive instruction outside of core content area classes? b. Consider instructional delivery strategies: i. Do teachers engage students with instructional strategies that ensure achievement of learning expectations? ii. Do teachers deliver instruction that is well planned and includes feedback to students? iii. Do teachers employ effective implementation of the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model and/or the use of a research- based instructional delivery model? iv. Do teachers provide instructional delivery to students in multiple, differentiated levels of intensity based on need (data)? v. Is the delivery of instruction in Tier 1 focused on grade- level, subject- area or behavior standards using effective large and small group instructional strategies? vi. Does differentiated instruction occur to a degree that is appropriate for the size and diverse learning abilities of the group and the instructional skills of the teacher? vii. Do teachers teach and reteach? c. Consider the alignment of assessment and instruction i. Do the school's curriculum and assessment programs include the following? 1. A clear understanding of standards/expectations 2. The use of data analysis 3. Assessments that are highly aligned 4. A comprehensive scope and sequence (curriculum map) 5. An understanding of available resources that align and support 6. Support for professional development and implementation 7. Ongoing reflection and revision ii. Do teachers effectively implement the aligned resources and provide feedback to students on their performance? iii. Does the school frequently measure student academic progress using a variety of assessment procedures? iv. Does the school use results of the assessments to improve individual student performance and also to improve the instructional program? Page 4 of 7

5 IV. COLLABORATIVE AND PUBLIC TEACHING Structures are established by the leadership team to support teacher teams. Teams are committed to the school, receive strong professional development and work together to improve the school. Example(s): Professional Development Feedback Surveys Guiding Questions: a. Consider the infrastructure of the school: i. Are teachers organized into teams and do they meet on a regular basis? ii. Are teachers provided adequate time and frequency to engage in instructional teams effectively? iii. Are instructional team meetings purposeful and do they have established agendas and outcomes? b. Consider data- based problem solving: i. Do teachers willingly and actively participate in instructional teams where they use student learning data from aligned assessments to plan and make instructional and curriculum decisions? ii. Do teachers use data to understand effectiveness of Tier I instruction, and identify students needing Tier II and Tier III instructional supports, to meet all students needs? c. Consider professional development: i. Do teachers engage in professional development that includes self- assessment, peer observation, mentoring and coaching, and is aligned, sustained and focused with time to practice and implement? d. Consider high expectations: i. Do teachers take ownership of student learning and feel responsible to do so? ii. Do teachers have high expectations for themselves and their colleagues and hold one another accountable to the school? e. Consider shared decision making: i. Do teachers have a voice in hiring, selection of programs and leadership at the school? f. Consider collegial development: i. Do teachers mentor, coach and support one another through a trust relationship with a focus on expertise in their craft? Page 5 of 7

6 V. INVOLVED FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT The entire system, including individuals at all levels, work to build strong relationships with families and communities to support learning. Example(s): School Climate Survey Guiding Questions: a. Consider data- based problem solving: i. Does the school work towards creating a welcoming environment for families? ii. Do teachers engage in professional development focused on working effectively with parents? iii. Does the school gather data from parents and stakeholders, and create plans to sustain, improve or enhance their efforts? b. Consider school safety: i. Does the school ensure the safety of the campus? ii. Does the school ensure the safety of students before, during and after bus transportation? c. Consider communication: i. Does the school systematically, regularly meet and communicate with parents in a candid and supportive manner? ii. Are parents opinions valued and do teachers work at building positive relationships? iii. Does the school keep parents informed of their child's progress? Page 6 of 7

7 References: UEI researchers (2014, April 1). Research, 5 Essentials. Retrieved from Academic Development Institute (2014, April 1). Indicators Now. Retrieved from AdvancEd (2014, April 1). AdvancED Standards for Quality. Retrieved from ed.org/. Association for Effective Schools Inc. (2014, April 1). Correlates of Effective Schools. Retrieved from Anderson, Stephen, Leithwood, Kenneth and Strauss, Tiiu (2010). Leading Data Use in Schools: Organizational Conditions and Practices at the School and District Levels. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9: 3, Retrieved from Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom, and Anderson, (2010). Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning. Learning from Leadership Project. Retrieved from: Honig and Venkateswaran, (February, 2012). Central Office Relationships in Evidence Use: Understanding Evidence Use as a Systems Problem. American Journal of Education, Vol. 118, No. 2, The Practice of Data Use, pp The University of Chicago Press. Retrieved: PSRTI Project, Florida s Positive Behavior Support Project: A Multi- Tiered Support System, USF, (January 2012). MTSS Implementation Components. Ensuring common language and understanding. Retrieved from: rti.org/educatorresources/mtss_book_implcomp_ pdf Thapa, Ph.D., Cohen, Ph.d., D Alessandro, Ph.D., Guffney, (August, 2012). School Climate Research Summary: August National School Climate Center. Retrieved from: brief- v3.pdf Page 7 of 7

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