About Educational Directions

Educational Directions provides training programs to groups of educators, school leaders, and administrators aimed at improving the performance of students within a given school district, county, or state. Our specialized program not only implements best-practices and procedures to ensure maximum improvement, but also includes ongoing coaching and support for our clients.

 

Educational Directions was started in 1998 to enable a group of Kentucky “distinguished educators” to continue working with schools after their retirement from their home districts. In the beginning of most of the focus was on providing training for teachers but that evolved into training for educational leaders and central office staff, into coaching principles central office leaders and teachers. The major difference between educational directions and other companies is that educational directions does not market a product or a set of canned programs. Our training programs and coaching are tailored to meet the needs of the schools that will be involved in the program. In most cases programs differ from state to state and from district to district. We maintain extensive data streams to make sure that training is embedded in planning, implemented, evaluated for impact, and revise if necessary to improve student performance.

We have unique approaches to several key educational issues. And trainings we focus on what the learner needs to have happened at specific times in the school year and all and strategies for preparing schools to provide those experiences to learners.

Educational Directions, LLC (ED) provides a number of services to schools and school districts. In each case, the services are targeted to the state accountability system demands and to the identified needs of the schools and districts. Based on our discussions and on our initial examination of the Georgia accountability model, we have developed this menu of services for your schools.

Programs designed for teacher groups usually focus on “best practice” teacher and learner work. Each session can stand alone or be included in a professional development set.
Sessions are targeted to state expectations, and can be targeted to specific grade groups (e.g. K-3 or 9-10) or to cross grade “strand” groups (e.g. math or science). Current offerings
include:

  • TURN AROUND PROGRAMS
  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PRESENTATIONS
  • ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP COACHING
  • COACHING/ FACILITATED PLANNING
  • LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
  • CURRICULUM UNPACKING/ DEVELOPMENT
  • WALK THROUGH OBSERVATIONS
  • ACADEMIC AUDITS
  • TRAIN THE TRAINER MODELS
  • TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT

A word on planning and student performance

-Frank DeSensi, Founder

Depending on what is meant by reforming, we started reforming education in 1633, 1780, 1820 or 1868. I like to start "modern reform" about 1895 because that is the beginning of the first real "national" reform movement. Since that time, we have reformed education about every 12 years.

During this period, educators tended to plan using what is now called the "Education Model." They identified problems, test failures or patterns in disaggregated scores and then "reformed" some element of text books, teacher training, methodologies or schedules. Teacher evaluations focused on the implementation of the reform initiatives and success or failure was determined by the teacher "buy in" and use. In 1994, I worked with a group of educators to evaluate school plans and of 125 plans, 125 followed this pattern. As long as schools are not really accountable for improving the performance of every student, the flaws in this model don't really matter (except to the unsuccessful student).

The latest reform movement which produced NCLB dates to about 1990 and changes the focus from teacher compliance to student performance. "Standards Based Reform" with high levels of accountability for improving student performance requires that educators make plans that will predictably enable each  student to use  learning at the levels defined by a standard. The education model unfortunately is too accidental to do this and many schools struggled.

Our company, Educational Directions, was set up in 1998 to support schools in the move from the old "input" age of reform to the "output" focus required by the new requirements and our early work with schools caused us to rethink much of what we "knew" about reforming schools. We learned, for example, that changing planning processes or teaching strategies doesn't work if we fail to address the thinking patterns that shape the way schools interpret the plans.

One example of thinking that caused problems involves the presumed cause of student performance. For many schools, failure meant that the student did not learn the material tested and plans reflected this. Our research, however, indicated that student performance rests of 5 "legs" and all effect performance. We knew that if a school's planning, program and curriculum did not assess and develop all 5 legs, we could have students learn and know but still fail to "pass" a test.

As we imbedded research into our work, it became obvious that the one dimensional approach of the "education model" must be abandoned. The new model had to enable educators to probe scores, determine cause, and then design systems, class procedures, and student assistance programs that would eliminate the real cause of poor performance. We have found that research and practice were relevant and became "best practice" only when they address student need. There was no "magic bullet."

Our current planning model is the foundation of our work with schools. It emphasizes:

  1. CHANGE THE THINKING

  2. BUILD STUDENT FOCUSED PLANS

  3. CREATE THE SYSTEMS NEEDED FOR THE PLANS TO WORK.