Step 1

Identify Critical Needs

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Identifying critical needs begins with collecting and analyzing data, which encourages impartial, nonjudgmental decision-making. With analysis of reliable data, teams can pinpoint the areas of greatest concern. 

Ohio’s One Needs Assessment launches the process. Other district, school and classroom data to include are ongoing student performance, adult implementation, organizational, school climate and culture, and family and community stakeholder data.

The district leadership team (DLT), building leadership team (BLT) and teacher-based teams (TBTs) play crucial roles in needs identification:

DLT – Stakeholders from across the district, schools and community 

  • Conducts a comprehensive needs assessment for the district:
    • Identifies data to be collected and organized;
    • Analyzes data from the district perspective;
    • Identifies root causes of problems;
    • Prioritizes the district’s critical needs;
    • Continues this process throughout the year.
  • Ensures stakeholder understanding and participation; and
  • Establishes a communication loop with the BLT.

BLT – Stakeholders from across the school

  • Conducts a comprehensive, school needs assessment:
    • Pinpoints data to be collected and organized;
    • Analyzes data from the school perspective;
    • Identifies root causes of problems;
    • Prioritizes the school’s critical needs.
  • Continues this process throughout the year;
  • Ensures stakeholder understanding and participation; and
  • Establishes a communication loop with the TBTs and DLT.

TBTs – Stakeholders from across classrooms and content areas

  • Collect and organize data at the classroom and team levels on:
    • Adult implementation of instructional strategies; and
    • Student performance and mastery of learning targets.
  • Analyze data from the classroom and collective team perspectives; and
  • Communicate findings and decisions to the BLT.

Why Analyze Adult and Student Data?

How adults implement instructional practices directly affects student performance. Collecting student data without corresponding adult data limits a team to only part of the picture. Teams can measure this cause and effect relationship in many ways.

Adult data examples:

  • Human capital management:
    • Selection and hiring;
    • Professional learning; and
    • Active engagement.
  • Teacher attendance and retention;
  • Climate and culture;
  • Educator equity;
  • Instructional leadership;
  • Implementation commitment:
    • Classroom walk-throughs; and
    • Lesson planning.

Student data examples:

  • Performance
    • Strengths and concerns for grade levels, subgroups and content areas.
  • Demographic;
  • Behavioral;
  • Attendance; and
  • Disproportionality:
    • Students with disabilities;
    • Suspension; and
    • Expulsion.

Why Analyze Organizational Data?

Analyzing how the system designs learning opportunities helps teams create an equitable educational environment. 

Adult data examples:

  • Professional development opportunities;
  • Classroom resources;
  • Collaboration time and procedures; and
  • Communication systems – administrators-teachers, teachers-teachers, and teachers-parents.



Student data examples:

  • Advanced coursework and enrollment, such as Advanced Placement or College Credit Plus;
  • Access to varied coursework in and beyond the district;
  • Technology and support;
  • Transportation; and
  • Extracurricular academic, social, vocational and athletic activities.

Why Analyze Community Data?

Schools operate most effectively when they connect with the families and communities they serve.

Community data examples:

  • Parent, community and staff input, including surveys and focus groups; and
  • Community service supports: health, social/emotional, before- and after-school, and parent education programs.

Prioritizing Needs 

Effective teams find root causes and prioritize needs to ensure a clear focus that informs improvement plan development. 

Considerations in prioritizing may include: 

  • Root cause protocols, such as the fishbone diagram and 5 Whys; 
  • Initiative inventory – Weed the Garden; 
  • Resource evaluation; 
  • Cost and benefit analysis; 
  • Capacity and sustainability analysis; such as the Hexagon tool; 
  • Future Ready Framework; and 
  • School-Based Health Survey.


Last Modified: 9/27/2023 8:34:07 AM