Step 1: Identify Critical Needs

To Identify Critical Needs, schools and districts should engage in a collaborative needs assessment process that involves staff, families, students and members of the community. The data provided from this effort will help identify strengths and areas of growth.


Assessing Whole Child Needs Through the One Needs Assessment

Ohio’s One Needs Assessment, a comprehensive needs assessment tool, allows schools and districts to identify all their needs in a single location within a standardized timeline. The One Needs Assessment is part of the Ohio Department of Education’s comprehensive planning tool, Education Department's System of Tiered E-Plans and Supports (ED STEPS) system. More information can be found on the One Needs Assessment webpage.

Several sections of the One Needs Assessment align with the Whole Child Framework. Questions in the needs assessment examine key factors such as:

  • Community/Family Engagement - Students benefit from knowing they are surrounded by caring adults in school, at home and within their community. Schools engage families and communities to best align efforts to support students’ needs.
    • Example of question in the One Needs Assessment: 1. What data is used to evaluate family engagement activities? How often is that data used? What does data indicate about the successes and opportunities to improve the current family engagement activities for all families (English learners, homeless, foster, gifted, students with disabilities)?
  • School Climate and Supports - Students learn best and thrive in safe and supportive learning environments. The components of a safe and supportive learning environment include creating a positive school climate, addressing students’ emotional and physical safety and ensuring the school’s physical environment and grounds are safe.
    • Example of question in the One Needs Assessment: What impact has the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports implementation had on the number of office referrals, suspensions and expulsions?
  • College and Career Readiness - Students thrive when all aspects of their well-being are addressed, including physical, social, emotional and intellectual aspects. This will lay the groundwork and inspire students to identify paths to future success and provide multiple ways to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary for high school graduation and beyond.
    • Example of question in the One Needs Assessment: How are students monitored to determine if they are not on track for graduation? What does the evaluation say about the effectiveness of monitoring and interventions moving students from not on track to on track?


Analyzing Whole Child Data Sources

The One Needs Assessment uses robust data submitted by schools and districts through the Education Management Information System (EMIS) to trigger required and recommended questions. One Needs Assessment questions prompt districts and schools to critically analyze their needs, explore root causes and determine priority needs. Schools and districts have an opportunity to analyze additional data when completing the One Needs Assessment. Using additional data is important when setting whole child priorities because it will assist in answering questions in the One Needs Assessment, including the root cause analysis for each required question. Supplemental data can provide a holistic picture of student needs. The collaborative teams can utilize the five tenets and related school indicators as a data source when completing the One Needs Assessment to identify existing gaps in whole child supports in alignment with Ohio’s Whole Child Framework.

Questions to Ask about data

When reviewing data, collaborative teams should ask the following for each student group in the school to ensure data is analyzed through an equity lens (for example, Race/Ethnicity; Special Education Classification; Language status; Gender/Gender Identification; Sexual Orientation; foster care status, homeless identification and adjudicated youth):

  • What trends are found in the data?
  • What are strengths?
  • Where are there gaps?
  • By tenant, what does the data show about whole child education in your district?

Other whole child data sources to consider when completing the One Needs Assessment:

  • Attendance:
    • Absences (both excused and unexcused) and tardies;
    • Absence intervention plans;
    • Court referrals for truancy;
    • Chronic absenteeism.
  • Discipline:
    • Office discipline referrals;
    • Non-office discipline referrals, for example, class removals, visits to school counselors or a calming room;
    • Behavior incident reports for early childhood;
    • Suspension and expulsion reports;
    • School arrests;
    • Restraint and seclusion data.
  • School Climate Data:
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Data:
  • Social-emotional Learning Data:
    • Student visits to school specialists (for example, counselors, nurses or social workers), calls to community crisis centers and proportion of families in the community affected by substance abuse, incarceration or domestic abuse, surveys that measure students' social-emotional skills.
  • Cultural Responsiveness Data:
  • Surveys:
    • Students;
    • Parents;
    • Staff;
    • Community.
  • Ohio Healthy Youth Environments Survey (OHYes!):  
    • Free, voluntary, web-based survey to collect information that schools and communities can use to access resources to reduce risk behaviors and create healthy and safe community, school and family environments.
  • Healthy Student Profile Data:
    • System of surveys assessing school health policies and practices in states, large urban school districts and territories.            
  • Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS):
    • Provides valuable information about mental health needs and impacts at the state or district level.
  • Special Education:
    • Special education eligibility referrals;
    • Special education eligibility determinations;
    • Out-of-school placements for special education students;
    • Out-of-district placements for special education students.
  • ASCD Whole Child School Improvement Tool:
    • The ASCD School Improvement Tool™ (SITool) is a free, 20-minute, online needs assessment survey. Based on the ASCD Whole Child framework, the SITool provides aggregate scores of your school delineated by the five tenets of a whole child approach: healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.

Engaging Stakeholders in the Needs assessment process

The school or district also may engage stakeholders and community partners that represent student populations in the needs assessment process. A collaborative needs assessment process leads to more effective identification of underlying root causes and priority needs at each level of support. Stakeholders can bring context and additional information to the needs assessment process, including diverse qualitative and quantitative data about whole child needs. The Ohio Department of Education has released a toolkit for engaging stakeholders and community partners, called the Ohio Local Stakeholder Engagement Toolkit.

After reviewing a diverse set of data, discuss the picture forming about the school that may explain the data. The data can identify the problems but cannot tell why the problems or gaps are occurring. A root cause analysis is an inquiry process that uses collaboration, data and an in-depth process to help stakeholders understand why the problems and gaps are occurring in the first place. For example, do changes (or lack thereof) in procedures, policy, activities, staffing, community environment and partnerships explain the results?

identifying the root cause

A root cause analysis is a tool to define the gap between the current problem and the desired results by identifying factors that contribute to the current problem within the collaborative team’s control. The Five Whys and the Fishbone are root cause analysis techniques, and more information can be found on the Ohio Department of Education’s YouTube page. After completing the root cause analysis, the collaborative team will identify interventions to get to the desired goal. If helpful, the collaborative team may bring in additional school or community data to enrich the discussion and provide a fuller picture.

Teams should decide, as a result of the data, the specific tenets and indicators the school will focus on this improvement cycle. Ideally, teams will focus on no more than five indicators at a time. How will these indicators help the school achieve current goals or policies toward which they are working?

A strong needs assessment process will help the school or district determine Priority Needs and Strategy Areas in the One Needs Assessment that lead to SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Achievable, Realistic and Relevant and Timely) goals, strategies and action steps in the school or district’s One Plan.

The process for completing the One Needs Assessment is highlighted in this video titled Navigating the One Needs Assessment.

Last Modified: 2/16/2022 10:28:49 AM