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Project Parkway

Subcommitte 2/A/2 Essential Question:
What practices are in place to promote collaboration among learning communities?

9/28/2009: What data will be collected to reveal current reality?

The subcommittee recommends the following data should be collected to reveal current reality:

  • What social/emotional/behavioral records, data, and communications are required and/or recommended by Parkway to be forwarded to the next level when a student moves from early childhood to elementary school, elementary school to middle school, and middle school to high school?
  • What collaborative discussion and/or problem solving processes are required and/or recommended by Parkway at the receiving school when a student moves from early childhood to elementary school, elementary school to middle school, and middle school to high school to review and respond to the social/emotional/behavioral information received?
  • Are these requirements and/or recommendations followed consistently throughout the District?
  • What collaborative and/or problem solving practices and activities to address social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports exist at certain “levels” or schools that exceed those District requirements and/or recommendations?
  • What collaborative and/or problem solving processes and activities are recommended and/or required to address social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports at schools throughout the District at the various “levels?”
  • Are these requirements and/or recommendations followed consistently throughout the District?
  • What collaborative and/or problem solving processes and activities exist to address social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports at different schools that exceed what the District requires and/or recommends?
  • What is the level and nature of parent/guardian involvement in theses processes and activities?
  • What district and school “structures” and resources are in place to support collaborative and/or problem solving processes and activities to address social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports?
  • What district and school data are collected and used to support to support collaborative and/or problem solving processes and activities to address social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports?


The subcommittee recommends the data be collected through:

  • interviews with district-level administrators responsible for the various levels and processes/activities related to students’ social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports
  • interviews with a variety of school-level administrators at all levels, including early childhood
  • interviews with parents/guardians of students at the various levels, including early childhood
  • review of district and, if available, school or level-specific documents (i.e., policies, guidelines, procedures) related to addressing social/emotional/behavioral needs and supports


Our discussionn was difficult due to the lack of staff from other levels and community members, but we attempted to include a much broader perspective.

3/1/2010: Key Findings

A. Positive Observations Revealed by the Data

Teacher Perceptions
Based on approximately 112 teacher survey respondents there were generally positive perceptions about the frequency of collaboration and the structures in place to facilitate collaboration. In response to the question, “How often do you collaborate with other staff members to address the multiple needs of the whole student?” 67% indicated “Often” or “Very Often”. Likewise 60% of teacher respondents reported agreeing or strongly agreeing to the statement that , “Parkway’s STRUCTURES, such as records, problem solving teams and student information systems, allow me to effectively collaborate with others to meet the multiple needs of the whole student.”

Parent Perceptions (*See Additional Comments section for cautions regarding interpretation)
Results from 532 parent respondents also reflected generally positive perceptions about the opportunities and student information available to support collaboration with staff. The majority of parent responses (64%) “Agreed” or “Strongly Agreed” with the statement, “There are sufficient opportunities to collaborate with school and district staff to address the multiple needs of my child.” The statement, “There is sufficient information available to me about my child’s school performance and behavior to effectively collaborate with staff to address the multiple needs of my child” elicited “Agree” or Strongly Agree” from 75% of parents completing the survey. Parents also reported positive feelings about the opportunities for student and teacher collaboration. Sixty eight percent of responders “Agreed” or “Strongly Agreed” with the statement, “My child’s school provides programs, activities, groups, events, and other opportunities that promote and support student/teacher relationships.”

Middle School Administrator Observations (collaboration for student transition)
The majority of responses from an informal semi-structured interview with Parkway middle school administrators suggested general satisfaction with information available for elementary-to-middle school transition. In response to the question, “What information or data would you like to see from the elementary schools?” 3 of 4 interview participants indicated that they already receive the information needed.

Inventory of collaborative meeting structures
Although considerable variation exists in regards to teachers’ reported participation and some potential label or vocabulary confusion from school-to-school and level-to-level, there are many identified meeting structures across the district that are being utilized to support collaboration. Following is a list of some of these meeting structures; faculty meetings, building leadership meetings, grade level meetings, department meetings, academic team meetings, professional learning communities, content area teams, PBIS/school wide development teams, Care Team/Support Teams, IEP meetings, and parent-teacher conferences.

B. Identified Needs

Mission guided gap analysis for this subcommittee is difficult. The “Key Question” and the focus of this work is process oriented. It addresses what the adults are doing. Given our mission, vision shift to student outcomes this key question now is better represented in the “Instructional Programs and Practices” level of our long-range planning model. Since there is significant and broad support of collaboration and collaborative inquiry in educational research and instructional practice, this information will still be helpful during the action planning and implementation monitoring phases of our improvement process. Rather than mission, the following might be considered an implementation gap analysis. Without a known implementation target, however, discrepancy cannot be specifically determined. Based on general knowledge of systems and organizational change the subcommittee used the implementation benchmark range of 80 – 95% as a general target for gap analysis. All teacher and parent sample responses for all questions relevant to collaborative process fell below this “benchmark” range.

Teacher Perceptions
Data source: Teacher Survey
As mentioned in the “Positive Observation” section above the majority of our teacher respondents reported generally positive perceptions about frequency of collaboration and existing structures to provide collaborative opportunities. Although the majority of responses were positive there was still a large portion of the sample that reported negative or neutral perceptions.

Survey results indicated that 33% of sample reported “Rarely” or “Sometimes” collaborating with other staff members to address needs of their students. An even larger group, 40% of teacher responders, reported disagreement or neutral perceptions about Parkway structures (i.e., records, problem solving teams, student information system) supporting collaboration to meet the needs of students. The most negative response was to the statement, “On the whole, available RESOURCES, such as time, staffing and curriculum are sufficient to support effective collaboration on meeting the multiple needs of the whole student.” The majority of teacher responses to this statement were negative/neutral with 66% indicating disagreement or no opinion.

Parent Perceptions*
Data source: Parent Survey
As mentioned in the “Positive Observation” section above the majority of parent respondents reported generally positive perceptions about opportunities for collaboration with staff, student information, and structures for student-teacher relationships. Although the majority of responses were positive there was still a portion of the sample that reported negative or neutral perceptions.

In regards to opportunities to collaborate with staff 36% of parent responders indicated disagreement or no opinion. More parents had positive perceptions about the amount of information available about their child’s performance. Only 25% of parent sample indicated negative or neutral perceptions on this topic. Regarding opportunities for student/teacher relationship development 32% of parents responding indicated dissatisfaction or no opinion.

Middle School Administrator Observations (collaboration for student transition)
Although a very small and informal sample, the middle school administrator responses refelcted varied transition processes. Four schools with four different approaches to collaborating with feeder schools, students, and parents. Not enough or the right type of data to draw conclusions, but could be an indication of a need to define a common district transition expectation/purpose aligned with mission/vision.

Inventory of collaborative meeting structures
Although there are a number of meeting structures across the district, they are also inconsistent building-to- building and level-to- level. This may also be an indicator for the need to develop common expectations for these meeting structures and systematic, responsive connections to student needs based on mission and vision.

C. (If Necessary) Additional Data Needed

The data used for this needs assessment analysis were perceptual. Although perceptual data is important it is not sufficient by itself. Since this is a process oriented key question, the committee recommends collecting additional observational data. A “walk-through” for collaborative meeting structures or time utilized to problem solve student needs at all levels of the district or school would be helpful. Developing the observation tool would be a worthwhile task all by itself as it would help us identify concretely what our common vision of collaborative problem solving would look like implemented. This common understanding could improve not only quality of implementation but also improve our ability to evaluate the effects of collaborative effort on student outcomes.

The survey data also presents some issues. Although the teacher responders were representative of most of the building levels (there were no surveys from early childhood) the total sample size (112 for our collaboration questions) was low. With 532 parent responses the sample size is also probably a little low, but the bigger issue is that this sample is not representative of our population. (See Nathan Tyson’s explanation in the “Additional Comments” section below.)

If survey data are needed then a larger and more representative sample would be required.

D. Comments

*Parent Survey Data: See the following statement from Nathan Tyson, Parkway Coordinator of Program Evaluation, regarding trends noted in parent responders and cautions for interpretation and generalization of results:

“Keep a couple of things in mind as you look at these results. First, between 150 and 200 parents (out of 559) chose not to answer the demographic questions at the end of the survey. This obviously impacts the results because if we don't know what group to put a parent's survey data into, we can't include that data in the analysis. Second, only two parents responded that their child received D's or F's. Third, only three parents identified their child as Hispanic, only 17 as African American, and only 19 as Asian. Fourth, only 9 said their child spoke a language other than English growing up and only 15 said their child spoke English and another language. Finally, only 5 parents said they live in the City of St. Louis. Clearly, we don't want to make generalizations about these groups since these groups are so poorly represented.”