Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ATI Forum Sneak Peek: Research as a Reality Check on Intervention Investments

How do we really know if we are getting an acceptable educational return on our intervention investments?

School districts throughout our nation continually invest substantial financial resources, time, energy and intellectual capital in their efforts to select and utilize interventions intended to produce positive outcomes for students and raise levels of achievement. In recent years, intervention investment decision-making has become increasingly impacted by a number of factors. These include:
  1. the proliferation of intervention options available to districts;
  2. the scarcity of funds to support these interventions; and
  3. the increased public policy demand for using evidence-based strategies to improve student learning.

This current state of affairs presents an important opportunity for school districts to more closely explore their intervention choices and to strengthen their capacity to effectively evaluate intervention impact on student learning.

This presentation is intended to serve as a launching point for a continuing dialog on the ways in which local school district grass root initiatives can be effectively designed to answer the fundamental question - How do we really know if we are getting an acceptable educational return on our intervention investments? The discussion begins with a presentation of the historical and current context for the pressing need to conduct locally designed and managed research on intervention investments. A fundamental question to be addressed in this discussion has to do with the extent to which there is precedent supporting a district’s need to move more aggressively in this direction. This is followed by a discussion about the resources and constraints requiring consideration in order to build and sustain district capacity to conduct “return on investment” research. Core issues including consensus building, time-management, the role of technology-based research tools, and the use of research designs are incorporated into this part of the discussion. Finally, considerations for moving ahead and helpful information resources are presented.

An important outcome of this presentation will be the opportunity for school districts to learn how to build and maintain the capacity to gather, analyze, and use information in a timely fashion to inform intervention investment decision-making.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ATI Forum Sneak Peek: Dynamic Intervention Systems

What kinds of interventions are currently being implemented in your district?

In the presentation Dynamic Intervention Systems, the premise is that the national goal of increasing learning beyond current levels will require the development and implementation of dynamic intervention systems. A systemic approach is required to support district-wide intervention planning, implementation, and evaluation. Dynamic systems are needed to adjust to the rapid changes that are occurring in American education.

The presentation also points out that a dynamic intervention system needs to accommodate two types of interventions: curricular interventions and re-teaching interventions. Curricular interventions are designed to increase learning by making changes in instructional content or curriculum scope and sequence. When they are effective, curricular interventions increase instructional efficiency. Re-teaching interventions are remedial in nature. They are designed to provide additional instruction to students who have not met standards following an initial period of instruction. Re-teaching interventions necessarily increase the amount of time devoted to instruction on the topic being re-taught. The expected benefit is an increase in the number of students mastering standards.

One of the things that those who have registered for, and attend the Forum will hopefully take from this presentation is a sense of the ways in which technology, including online Instructional Dialogs, learner response systems, and white boards can increase your district's effectiveness in managing both curricular and re-teaching interventions.

ATI Forum Sneak Peek: Seeing Both the Forest and the Trees

How does your district integrate data from various levels (including classroom quizzes, formative assessments, and benchmark tests) to provide clear paths from the details of instruction to global student success?

Teachers and administrators have different jobs, and they must necessarily focus on different levels of data analysis. School and district administrators must focus on global data to monitor progress of large groups in terms of AYP. Classroom teachers must focus on detailed data regarding specific lessons and specific students. Communication across these levels of analysis is crucial for successful data-driven instruction and intervention efforts. After all, it is primarily the classroom teachers who actually implement the interventions necessary to modify school- and district-wide trends. At the same time, administrators need to know what progress is being made in the classrooms throughout the year, so that problems can be identified and responded to well before the administration of high-stakes statewide assessments.

Communication across these levels can be inherently difficult. The two levels differ in terms of the requirements for good data collection, the time frame for the availability of data, and the level of analysis for the resulting data (i.e. data reported in terms of averages and probabilities, at the global level, versus data in terms of specific students and specific lessons at the classroom level). How is data from across levels combined to provide a coherent pathway toward success?

Those who register for and attend the Forum will consider the issues that facilitate effective communication of data between teachers and administrators. They will also discuss the integration of data from multiple levels into one, coherent, system that facilitates the monitoring of progress from the level of individual students and lessons to district-wide AYP status.

Friday, January 16, 2009

ATI Forum Sneak Peek: Designing an Intervention

How has your district integrated the three fundamental components of educational intervention (goal setting, implementation and evaluation) to maximize the opportunity to realize meaningful increases in student achievement and instructional efficiency?

Creating close integration between the process of setting academic goals, implementing an instructional plan, and evaluating that plan maximizes the opportunity to realize meaningful increases in student achievement and instructional efficiency. Designing and implementing a closely integrated intervention plan requires tools that allow for the efficient and meaningful organization of instructional material and the creation of a very close tie between assessment and instruction. Assessment must not be limited to a role where its sole purpose is to provide a grade indicating how much a student has learned at the end of a unit or the completion of a chapter. Rather, it must yield information to evaluate intervention goals and guide future instruction to promote standards mastery. The close integration of goals, implementation plans, and evaluation will mean that an answer to that age old dinner table question "what did you learn today" will be immediately at hand for every child.

With the answer to that question in hand, determinations can be made about which children need additional help and about the relative effectiveness of different instructional activities that have been completed.

Tools must also be available to take action based on the result of evaluation of data when an instructional plan has been implemented. It must be possible to easily insert a new instructional activity when one has not been successful and to add new components to the plan to address the needs of children who haven't yet mastered the material. It must also be possible to easily identify those children who may have already mastered a skill set even before receiving the planned instruction.

Those who register for, and attend the ATI Educational Interventions Forum, either onsite or online, will have the opportunity to discuss:

  • The goal setting, plan implementation, and evaluation processes in detail and learn about many technological tools that can support the process.
  • Their district's interventions and how they can be addressed and supported through the use of technology such as Instructional Dialogs, learner response systems and white boards.