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Assumptions That Support Decisions and Processes

As we have evaluated grant-funded education programs, helped schools with School Improvement Plans, and helped educators move to data-driven decisions, we have seen that many programs are designed based on beliefs that have their roots in previous eras, and lack of awareness of what can be known using computers, technology, and research on best practices.  Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know.

People designing the programs we evaluate have good intentions, and believe the programs may result in the outcomes they want.  To help them move toward modifying programs to get better outcomes for kids, we try to understand what beliefs they have, and what skills they lack and may even be unaware of.  We aren’t always successful, because changing beliefs and learning new skills can be very difficult.  But, often we are successful. Some trends we’ve seen repeatedly make sense given how our culture has evolved, how programs used to be funded (for demographic groups), and the advances in technology that people may not even be aware of.

Beliefs About At-Risk

We see that the idea of “at-risk” meaning low-income or minority, instead of meaning “reads below grade level” accounts for a lot of mis-alignment of services. Schools used to use the lunch-status list to align academic services.  As that practice has stopped, we found people telling us that they had to “guess” who was poor now that they could no longer use that list.  They’d tell us they look at the mothers’ pocket books, the buses that kids ride, and other clues to decide who to enroll in services designed for students who read below grade level, for example.  This has not been uncommon.

We have observed over and over that providing average and above average students with remedial curriculum results in far less learning than if these students are challenged with enriched curriculum.  In fact, we have seen this so frequently that we believe most of the achievement gap between low- and not-low income students is caused by the curriculum each group generally gets.  As we’ve helped schools use data to identify high achieving low-income students and get them out of remedial programs and into enriched programs, we see achievement gaps close and suspensions and dropout rates lower.

Knowledge and Skills for Working With Data

No experience working with data often leads to keeping records in ways that make identifying effective practices impossible.  We see people doing things on paper that could be done more accurately and in a fraction of the time if done on a computer (in a fraction of the time and with far greater accuracy and permanence).  We also see that not understanding that the skills and knowledge needed for working with data sets is extensive and often results in having school systems hiring people without these skills to work with data.

Below, we profile some of the programs that we have worked with.  These might provide insight into what kinds of beliefs and skills are impacting educational programs and practices, and how we could get better outcomes.

 

If any of your programs or practices are like the examples below, we can advise you on how to get better outcomes, often far more efficiently.  We can also provide tools to help you use data effectively.

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Ready-Set-Go!

Years ago,we were surprised to discover that North Carolina awarded 4 different high school diplomas.  We evaluated a lot of National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that provided poor and minority kids with fabulous enrichment and rigorous experiences, and we'd see...

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Literacy Programs

We have evaluated many grant-funded literacy programs. Title 1 funds have been for providing services to low-income students, and have been traditionally used to support remedial literacy programs. We see that poor reading skills and low income are very strongly...

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Elementary School Improvement Plan

Once we were helping a Title 1 elementary school write it’s School Improvement Plan.  We started by using their school data to make a Data Profile for them, so they could visualize their school in terms of data.  We inventoried the remedial programs and services they...

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Re-Enrolling Long-Term Suspended Students

A large school district hired Edstar to evaluate the effectiveness of a federal grant-funded program that was designed with the goal of having long-term suspended students re-enroll in school after serving their suspension, and be successful.  The grant paid for...

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Raising Achievement Closing Gaps

We have worked with many school systems to help them use data to close their achievement gaps.  The most effective thing we have seen is to use data to align services.  This includes enrolling top scoring students into the most rigorous courses.  We have seen that...

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Supplemental Educational Services

A school system was delivering remedial reading instruction to all students who received free lunch. This was to satisfy a NCLB sanction for not making adequate yearly progress with all subgroups. The goal of the intervention was to bring the students to grade level...

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Create a Data System

A university education department realized that using data-driven decisions and aligning research-based interventions with student needs was being favored in getting federal Department of Education grants. They wrote a grant proposal and included Edstar in it to have...

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Glamour Shots

A grant-funded program’s purpose was to help students who are not proficient in math pass a required algebra course so they could graduate on time.  Edstar was to evaluate the effectiveness of this program towards this objective. A grant-funded program’s purpose was...

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Can We Know This?

A grant-writer for a school system told me she was supposed to report what the demographic makeup of a school would be if the magnet school recruited and enrolled specific numbers of minority students. She told me that she thought the kids would have to be there...

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Dropout Prevention

A school system hired Edstar to evaluate all of their dropout prevention programs in the district.  They were wanting to move toward using data-driven decisions rather than professional judgement.  This was a medium to large district.  There were a lot of high...

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Mentoring Low-Income Kids

A school hired us to help them with their School Improvement Plan.  They had provided a Poverty Framework professional development for all of the staff in which they learned that low-income kids are not as successful in school as not-low-income kids for several...

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Dimensions of Decision Making

Assumptions That Support Decisions and Processes As we have evaluated grant-funded education programs, helped schools with School Improvement Plans, and helped educators move to data-driven decisions, we've seen many practices that don't result in good academic...

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Skills, Beliefs, and Outcomes

Assumptions That Support Decisions and Processes As we have evaluated grant-funded education programs, helped schools with School Improvement Plans, and helped educators move to data-driven decisions, we've seen many practices that don't result in good academic...

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Lotta Chicken

Assumptions That Support Decisions and Processes As we have evaluated grant-funded education programs, helped schools with School Improvement Plans, and helped educators move to data-driven decisions, we've seen practices that rarely if ever result in good academic...

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Determining Effectiveness

A school system asked a non-profit that worked with kids in their schools to document the effectiveness of their programs.  Edstar was hired to help them do that.  The non-profit had several different programs and services for at-risk kids.  They told us their goals...

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Access, Equity, and Math Placement

What I hope to convey: Kids don't need to be gifted to learn math; Kids need help getting access to rigorous math classes, and I will do what I can to help them; We need to stop treating kids who are not in the top track in math as if they are "weak." The new...

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How Using Data Changed Outcomes

This is part 10 of a series that tells a story intended to help people understand the cultural context of changes happening in education.Federal Grants Changing How to Target Kids As the whole way that federal grants operated was changing to be more data-driven,...

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What the US Department of Education Was Doing

This is part 9 of a series that tells a story intended to help people understand the cultural context of changes happening in education.US DOE and the PART System As the federal grant world gradually changed, people who didn’t work with federal education grants as a...

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How is the Meaning of Equity Changing?

This is part 8 of a series that tells a story intended to help people understand the cultural context of changes happening in education.Some people believe that low-income kids struggle to learn; others realize that many low-income kids learn as easily as the rich...

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