Thank you to those who joined my January 29th webinar, The Consultation Process: Developing and Using a Needs Assessment Effectively. During the webinar, we focused on Titles I, IIA, III, and IVA—examining the program purpose, the services that can be offered, how to define educational need, and how to incorporate all of this into effective consultation.

If you missed this webinar, you can view the recorded webinar as well as a PDF of the slide presentation. Additionally, recording of all webinars can be found on the Webinars page of Equitable Services MDEC.

One of the themes we visited throughout the webinar is how to define and focus on the needs of the students who you hope will be positively impacted by the infusion of federal education program services. For professional development, the needs of the students are paramount, but you should also consider the strengths and weaknesses of their teachers to ensure the most effective impact of the services being provided. By building a foundation of your plan based on your student needs, then overlaying the strengths and weaknesses of their teachers and other educational personnel, you should be able to define goals for professional development. This data should lead to goal development and a PD plan of action. Here is an example, which is adapted from Tool #24 in the ESSA Toolkit (available on Equitable Services MDEC under Publications).

Goal for Professional Development:

  • Objective (What do you want to accomplish?)
  • Activities (What will you do to work toward your objective?)
  • Timeline (How long will it take to accomplish this goal? Will you spread out the activities throughout the school year? A portion of the school year?)
  • Resources Needed (Who will provide the services? Do you have a provider in mind? Are there multiple providers needed—such as a presenter, a facilitator, and coaches?)
  • Estimated Costs (Do you have any pricing for your requests?)

With the student and teacher data, your stated goals, and your plan of action to accomplish those goals through professional development activities, you are ready for a productive consultation session!

This same process can be applied to any of the federal education programs for which you are requesting professional development services, parent involvement activities, and even student services (with some adaptation).

One of the challenges in Title I when considering the educational needs of students is to define educational need in such a way that you can present your request for services outside of the traditional reading and math pull out, based on actual data of student needs. For example, if you are using test score cut-offs in reading and math and classroom assessments on reading and math as your “multiple criteria,” how do you identify students who may benefit from counseling services? One way to expand the definition of educational need to better capture the needs of your student population is to add teacher input (and even parent input) on classroom behaviors and student attitudes and behaviors that impact classroom achievement. Start by thinking in terms of what types of services you think would most benefit your students, then finding a way to define educational need so that it is capturing the needs you most want to address with Title I.

Always keep in mind that these decisions are arrived at during consultation with public school officials. The steps outlined in these suggestions and during the webinar are to help you prepare for the consultation meetings with thoughtful plans and good data, making the consultation process meaningful and taking advantage of the opportunity to genuinely express your views.