Covid-19, Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) and School Data Needs


In a recent discussion of how schools can address data needs with the uncertainties of off-site instruction, flexible schedules, etc. One of the groups noted that schools really needed three different data sets:

  • one that identified student progress in NTI
  • one that identified the impact of NTI on student learning, behavior, and performance
  • one that identified priority student needs so that “start up” plans being made for the restart of regular school could have supports ready from day one

This led us to a discussion of what data was being collected during the virtual school and/or nontraditional instructional settings and to the conclusion that most schools may not be collecting the data that they needed to inform plans for the reopening of regular school programs or intentionally addressing student needs should the need for virtual or nontraditional school settings be extended. When we checked with people working in schools we found that most schools had programs for monitoring attendance and collecting scores and some had “progress monitoring” protocols that they used to monitor students engagement but none of the schools we contacted were auditing their data management plans to see if the data yield match the school’s planning needs.

This led us to start working on a list of data needs that we felt might be useful in constructing plans for the Calibrating Period (from January to the state test window) and that schools could use to use to “audit” their current data management plans and build a menu for designing ad hoc data streams needed to inform their plans for the Calibrating Period. Our original list included:

Data that might be needed for December/January planningCurrent tools usedEffective in regular school settingEffective in VI or NTI settingPriority for planning
Student status as learner    
Student needs as learner    
Student status as performer    
Student needs as performer    
Student social competency    
Student socialization needs    
Student emotional competency    
Student emotional maturation needs    
Current student assessment status    
Identified assessment weakness e.g. format or duration    
NTI impact on attendance    
NTI impact on attention    
NTI impact on attitude    
NTI impact on perceptions    
NTI impact on effort    
NTI impact on scoring/assessment    

In our opinion, schools that fail to assess the impact of NTI on all their students run the risk of exacerbating existing performance gaps, losing instructional/learning momentum and delaying intentional support to students who in all probability desperately need intentional support from the time they come back from winter break. We’ve asked our coaches working in schools this semester to examine their school’s data plan and facilitate a discussion of what data might be needed to reduce the number of students who will be at risk because of the virtual school experience and or because the school restarted regular programs without anticipating how students had to be reoriented and re-encultured and supported in making a successful transition.

There are a variety of tools available that could be used to collect the data on the list. A variety of vendors have produced data collection forms and procedures that could yield some but not all of the data. In addition, Ed Directions has a collection tools in its leadership toolkit that relates to collecting learning and performing data, observing teachers and students in different situations, and evaluating student learning and performing work to identify point of break down and cause. These are available in Ed Directions’ Turning Around Turnaround Schools, Vol. 2 – Embracing the Rhythm of the Learner Year book, our coaches toolkits and they are regularly featured on our website.

One tool that we recommend is a brief self-assessment of the nontraditional or virtual learning experience that compares what happened in our school to what best practice indicators for an exemplary nontraditional experience might be. We encourage schools to self-assess with candor and when the answer is “no” to make a decision as to whether or not this is a priority issue. We use this to help schools plan additions to or deletions from their data management plans and procedures.

NTI – How Did We (the adults) Do
Best Practice IndicatorsYes/NoPriority
NTI classes were well organized and were planned to maintain student growth as learner and performer                                                                                                                                                                   
Technology access, hardware and software were available to all teachers and students and were user-friendly  
NTI classes were safe, stable, and organized and student work was formative and engaging  
Academic leaders and teachers embedded checks for understanding, diagnostic assessments, and formative assessments to inform lesson plans and student supports  
NTI data streams were analyzed to assess current student status and plan orientation and  enculturing activities to transition students into regular class routines  
Students with identified “at risk” indicators were monitored and targeted support plans were developed for their transition back into the regular classroom  
Teachers developed academic and performance profiles on students to provide baseline data for restarting regular class content coverage  

NTI – How Did They (the students) Do
Best Practice IndicatorsYes/NoPriority
All students logged in and student attendance reached a minimum of 95%                                                                                                         
All students stayed engaged for the duration of the NTI lessons and demonstrated high levels of effort and engagement  
All students mastered attending work, acquiring work, organizing work in meaningful work in the NTI lessons  
All students improved as learners and performers during NTI  
Students developed a rapport with their NTI teachers  

One outcome of this thought process was that each grade level and each discipline probably needed to have a more specific list to inform course, unit, and lesson planning in the second semester. Ed Directions is currently working with content specialist to generate parallel samples for specific interest groups.

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