Comprehensive Needs Assessment Process & Findings
In July 2018, Roosevelt School District contracted with WestEd to engage in a strategic planning process to guide the District in determining how best to allocate and maximize resources in order to provide high-quality instruction and support to students, as well as maintain and strengthen its relationship with the community through meaningful stakeholder engagement. The District is partnering with WestEd to formulate and facilitate the implementation of a three to-five-year strategic plan using a four-phase approach.
As part of the process, Roosevelt Elementary School District requested that WestEd provide a comprehensive needs assessment to serve as the foundation for building a strategic plan that is inclusive and reflective of the needs of south Phoenix. This process included extensive engagement and data collection about the current state of the school district resulting in an assessment that identifies the organization’s strengths as well as areas of need.
Using the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement, a systems framework developed by the Center for School Turnaround at WestEd, as the guiding framework. WestEd completed a mixed-methods approach to needs sensing and data collection in the spring of 2019. The four domains, or areas of focus for rapid school improvement work identified through research and practice are:
- Leadership Development
- Instructional Transformation
- Talent Development
- Culture Shift
Needs assessments seek to identify strengths that exist within a system and opportunities for growth which informs important next steps organizations need to consider when developing a strategic plan.
The needs assessment was intended to generate deeper insight into the perceptions of key stakeholders within Roosevelt. Findings from the needs assessment help identify strengths and needs based on both the lived experiences of staff and the community, as well as findings from documentation provided by the District. These findings will inform the strategic engagements for the Steering Committee and District executive leadership.
Strategic Planning Steering Committee
- Shenell Alexander, Executive Director of Human Resources
- Patrick Castro, REA Representative
- Deb Colbert, Black Mother's Forum
- Chaz Figueroa, Librarian
- Megan Gestson, Executive Director of Leadership & Learning
- Sabrina Hernandez, District Math Specialist
- Valerie Pablos, RSD Parent
- Gayla Patton, Teacher
- Juan Sierra, Principal
- Karla Soto, Chief Financial Officer
- Janelle Wood, Black Mother's Forum
- Two RSD Middle School Students
Interviews, Focus Groups, Community Forums, Surveys
Data collection activities included:
- Interviews (e.g., district administrators, fiscal staff, parents, students)
- Focus groups (e.g., teachers, principals)
- Community forums (e.g., Spanish led and English led)
- Business community forum; (5) anonymous surveys (e.g., community, teacher, building administrator, family, Executive Cabinet)
- Steering Committee meetings
Data Collection and Document Review
Data collection activities included initial and follow‐up interviews with district staff and a review and analysis of current plans, allocation formulas, staffing data, policies, procedures, outcome data, and data from comparable districts selected by the district. The data serves as both a snapshot of “what is” and benchmark for what “could be” for the district.
All interviews, Focus Groups, Community Forums and Surveys were analyzed for themes and anonymized to remove details that would reveal the identity of respondents. Quotes that most closely reflect shared sentiments of each group were selected for inclusion in this report. Complementing the work, was a comprehensive data and document review, which was used to inform findings regarding effectiveness, efficiency, and opportunities for improvement.
Areas of Strength
The aim of this section is to provide insight for the District’s decision-makers to reflect on and discuss as they develop next steps in the strategic plan. Below is a summary of Roosevelt’s key areas of strength surfaced from the needs assessment.
- Roosevelt has a uniquely rich and multicultural history.
- There is a concerted effort to develop a strong District Leadership Team; hiring of key personnel to fill critical areas including Teaching and Learning, Innovation, and Principal Leadership.
- “There is hope that things are getting better and moving in a positive direction.”
- Roosevelt/South Phoenix community is “loyal,” “has a noticeable cohesive character,” “cultural diversity,” “heart and soul,” “community pride,” and “strong/deep roots.”
- Families and community expressed admiration for Roosevelt’s willingness to evaluate the current structures in place and the level of rigor of the strategic planning process.
- Recent adoption/initial training of English language arts materials for 2019-2020.
- Core group of talented staff who are committed to the district and community.
- Finance Department’s remarkable improvements to the district budget ensuring fiscal solvency.
- Community support by way of voter approval for bonds.
Emerging Trends: Refinement
Areas of Refinement from the needs assessment are organized under the following themes that emerged as focus areas for the District to consider as it continues the strategic planning process:
- Turnaround Leadership– Establish a shared vision that will sustain despite changes in leadership.
- Talent Development– Ensure building the capacity of all staff to support the needs of the District and improve student achievement.
- Instructional Transformation– Set high expectations and ensure access to rigorous standards-based curriculum and instruction that is responsive to learning and social-emotional needs of students.
- Culture Shift– Engage in shared accountability of students, staff, and the community.
- Inconsistent leadership has resulted in both initiative fatigue and a lack of follow-through on district initiatives.
- Participants expressed the need for leaders across the district to serve as anchors for their students, teachers, and families. The combination of high turnover and high levels of autonomy at the school level has led to varied implementation of and lack of shared ownership for systems, structures, and practices impacting students need.
- “School leaders and teachers do not have adequate opportunities to engage in professional learning around standards, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and the integration of technology, as well as opportunities for classified staff to increase skill-sets necessary to meet the needs of the district.”
- 54% of teachers state their learning development needs are not being met.
- Access and consistency across district programs and services is needed in order to reduce disparities for students and teacher workload inequality
- Participants believe that the bridge between the home and Roosevelt is broken, and as such, they are concerned with the lack of communication and accountability between Roosevelt and families/local community, and would like to see more.
Considerations for Next Steps
The findings of the needs assessment indicate that while Roosevelt has made progress in certain areas, there continue to be many challenges. The process revealed a sense of urgency for commitment from the Roosevelt leadership team to strengthen the District’s coherence and accountability systems by mapping out a clear plan of action for school improvement with a focus on building leadership, ensuring accountability and communicating district/school/student progress.
The following are next steps for Roosevelt to consider integrating into its strategic plan.
- Create a cohesive strategy for recruitment, retention, development and evaluation of all staff.
- Provide for high quality curriculum and instructional materials aligned to the standards ensuring equitable and equal access for all.
- Provide responsive professional learning opportunities and ongoing support for all staff
- Provide regular opportunities for job-embedded learning including coaching/mentoring by leveraging and maximizing the effectiveness of
- Utilize High-performing teachers, coaches, and leaders by using them as models and peer coaches for both teachers and district/school support staff.
- Provide professional learning opportunities to support staff in mastering effective instructional practices.
- Align and coordinate professional development to support curriculum priorities with a focus on improving instruction and rigor in the classroom.
- Seek opportunities to meaningfully engage families and community members and organizations in planning and supporting students’ education goals.
- Ensure leadership coaching for principals and curriculum leaders to gain the necessary competencies to lead continuous improvement of schools.
- Ensure efficient and effective use of resources (fiscal and staff) that are aligned to the educational priorities of the District, meet the needs of students.
Subsequent to this work, the school district community will continue to engage in a process that:
- Refines the vision, mission, and values that best support students,
- Identifies critical goals and strategies to progress towards the vision and mission
- Surface ways in which to operationalize this work to ensure both the Central Office team and school-based leaders are able to enact this vision.
Ultimately it is the aim of this work to ensure a coherent system that supports effective teaching and learning, operations, and leadership development.