One of the key aspects of being prepared for consultation 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.  Keep in mind that all services—regardless of the program—must have as their primary focus meeting the needs of the students.  Services can often benefit teacher, educational personnel, and families provided that in doing so the needs of the students remain the focus of the program services.

In order to gather data on student needs, it is important to review data already available (such as test results, in-class assessments, etc.), discuss student needs with teachers, and as appropriate consult with parents.  By having a broad approach to gathering data, the result will be a comprehensive vision of student needs that can be met through federal education programs.  You can look at the needs of your students in a systemic way by focusing on academic intervention, student support services, professional development and family services, and special education needs.  After discerning the needs of your students, you can then review the options for services from each federal education program in which your students are eligible for services and devise a plan of action that you can bring to the consultation meeting for discussion.

In the MDEC ESSA Toolkit: A Guide for Equitable Services for Private School Students, Fall 2021 tools #12 and #13 can help you to document the needs of your students and then matching those needs with federal education program services.

Document Needs: Private school officials can use this worksheet as a method that can be used to discern student needs that can benefit from ESSA programs.  The resulting information can be used as a part of timely and meaningful consultation.  The content of the table below is only for illustration purposes; local schools will complete the categories as appropriate for the particular student needs.

Student Needs: The chart below provides a format for articulating needs within broad categories, then coordinating how to meet these needs across ESSA programs.

By taking the time prior to the consultation meeting, you can develop a good case with data backup for the requests you are making for the use of federal education program funds.  Of course, practical considerations such as funding available and timing of services are part of the discussion of program services during consultation, but by starting with the needs of your students and moving from there, you have a strong case for receiving the services most needed by your students.