A Guide for Comprehensive Needs Assessment By the Colorado Department of Education
What is a needs assessment? The overall purpose of a comprehensive needs assessment is to “identify gaps between the current status of the school and its vision of where it wants to be, relative to key indicators or focus areas" (Nonregulatory Guidance, p. 14). Requirements for program-level needs assessments are connected to the purpose of the program. It also provides direction, allows staff to determine priorities and resources to create greatest impact, creates cohesion through alignment of goals, strategies, and desired outcomes; enables monitoring of implementation and impact; helps identify change and which strategies are working.
Dimensions of a Comprehensive Needs Assessment Components: determined by local context, considering a range of issues; variety of sources; results in development of goals; include regular follow up Focus: focus on the factors that have the potential to impact student achievement. Should include: dropout, attendance, and graduation rates; professional development; family and community involvement, etc. Information Gathering: standardized summative or formative assessments, qualitative data, AYP status, graduation/ attendance rates, and demographics Planning Teams: CRITICAL and should include all parts of the system Use of Results: identify goals and action plans
Planning for a Comprehensive Needs Assessment Develop a Needs Assessment Committee (NAC) Include key district and school personnel, as well as external stakeholders. Prepare management plan Identify concerns and issues Identify measures Decide preliminary priorities Design comprehensive needs assessment Identify measures to use (focus groups, budgets, proposals, interviews, census data, etc.)
Data Collection and Analysis Data collection and analysis consists of three parts: collecting existing data, collecting new data to address the gaps not covered by existing data, and analyzing data to identify needs. Can look at: student demographics, student achievement data, curriculum and instruction, professional development, technology, family/ community involvement measures Collecting valid and reliable data is a concern in comprehensive needs assessment. Collecting data from multiple sources and including multiple stakeholders in the analysis process contribute to the reliability and validity of the data that are collected. Once data are collected there are a number of statistical strategies that can be used for analysis. All must prioritize needs, identify root causes, summarize findings, and make decisions
Planning A good comprehensive needs assessment should easily be usable as a basis for comprehensive planning. SMART goals engage in planning that is clearly connected to a needs assessment and needs analysis.
Implementing Strategies to Meet Needs Altschuld and Witkin (2000) identified four approaches to selecting solutions that may apply to educational settings. Review the literature Benchmarking Multi-Attribute Utility Technique (MAUT): develops criteria against which each solution strategy is rated. It compels the NAC to identify the criteria that are most important. Quality Function Deployment
Discussion Questions Question 1:Title III Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students, Part B, Subpart I, Sec. 3211 Financial Assistance for Language Instruction Education Programs attempts to help children develop English proficiency and, to the extent possible, proficiency in their native language, and to help them meet the same challenging state academic content and student achievement standards as all children are expected to meet. Which framework model for language development (content based or language based teaching) do you think would best meet this goal, and how would a comprehensive needs assessment help? Question 2:Why do you think a comprehensive needs assessment can be so valuable, and what are the most important parts? Have you heard of one, or the results from one before?
Resources Colorado Department of Education. A Guide for Comprehensive Needs Assessment: Southwest Comprehensive Center of West Ed. Altschuld, J. W., & Witkin, B. R. (2000). From needs assessment to action: Transforming needs into solution strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.