The Journey toward Real School Equity: Students’ Needs Should Drive Student Services … and Funding (Part II)

The Beginning of the Next School Year Starts Now: The “Get-Go Process”

Dear Colleagues,


   Last week, on May 17th, the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case was celebrated.  As we all know, this unanimous Supreme Court decision determined that state laws—establishing racially segregated public schools—were unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools were otherwise equal in quality.  More specifically, the Court decided that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and, thus, that they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

   Critically, however, the Supreme Court decision did not specify how states were to eliminate racial segregation in schools, and it ordered states to desegregate “with all deliberate speed.”  Thus, while Brown was a landmark civil rights decision, during the past 65 years, many districts and schools have “waxed and waned” from segregation to integration to re-segregation. 

   But the “bottom line,” as discussed in Part I of this two-part Blog series, is that the current state of educational equity is not good.  While segregated educational facilities were deemed by the Supreme Court to be inherently unequal, the quality of instruction and the availability of resources and money in today’s schools—for many students from poverty and students of color—is unequal.

   Below is a quick review.

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   In Part I of this series, we provided data from a number of sources showing that high-poverty non-white schools in this country receive significantly less money per pupil each year than high-poverty white schools and middle or upper class dominated schools, respectfully.  While this involves approximately 12.8 million students—many of them attending schools in urban settings—this is a nationwide problem.

   Because of the financial inequity, these high-poverty schools have fewer resources than middle or upper class-dominant schools, and they are typically staffed by less experienced teachers who have more skill gaps, and who resign from their schools more often and after fewer years in-rank.  In addition, the students in these schools typically have less access to high level science, math, and advanced placement courses, and less access to needed multi-tiered academic and social, emotional, and behavioral services, supports, programs, and interventions. 

   Correlated with the poverty, many of these students exhibit health, mental health, academic, and social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, that also triangulate with stress and trauma—including the impact of hunger and poor nutrition, parental incarceration and loss, abuse and neglect, and the exposure to violence and drugs.

   From a school perspective, all of this translates into lower numbers of academically-proficient students, and schools that are either in their state’s ESEA-driven school improvement programs or that are rated at the low end of their state’s school report card scale.

   From a student perspective, all of this translates into negative effects on students’ school attendance and expectations, classroom engagement and motivation, academic readiness and proficiency, emotional self-control and prosocial interactions and, ultimately, their high school graduation and readiness for the workforce. 

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   Critically, the sources of the existing financial inequities start from the top and move down.

   Indeed, the financial inequity occurs at the federal level relative to funding for students with disabilities.  Some of the inequity rests at the state level relative to their respective funding formulas and how they distribute educational funds to all of their districts.  Other inequities occur at the district levels relative to funds generated from local property taxes, and the ability of parent groups to generate discretionary money through fund-raisers and other donations.

   In the final analysis, Part I of this series described a vicious cycle due to all of this. 

   Despite the fact that teachers’ relationships with their students are one of the strongest predictors of student engagement and learning, these relationships are hard to establish and maintain given the effects (noted above) that occur in many underfunded schools.  This is compounded due to the intensity of the conditions in these schools’ communities and of the students’ needs.

   Because of the underfunding, many of these schools do not have the effective multi-tiered system of supports and resources that the students need.  Thus, the students’ problems persist or expand, classrooms and schools go into crisis, staff become reactive instead of proactive, more students are sucked into the negative climate and culture, and the entire cycle begins anew.

   Part I ended with a plea for systemic changes relative to federal, state, and district funding policies, principles, and practices.  We recommended a  “Core-Plus Funding” process whereby all schools in a district receive the core funding needed for student success, but where the schools with additional or significant student needs receive, annually, the additional funds and resources needed for their success.

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   In today’s Part II of this series, we will briefly discuss a new report showing the impact of poverty and the importance of equitable school funding, and revisit the Core-Plus Funding process—identifying one district that has been using it successfully.

   We will then describe the “Get-Go” process.  This is a process we have used across the country at the end of the school year to help schools identify and prepare for their diverse student needs on the first day of the new school year

   The Get-Go process helps districts know how to best deploy existing staff, services, and support to meet as many student needs as possible, and it can be used to determine how much “Plus Funding” different schools need as a function of their academically struggling and/or behaviorally challenging students.

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First:  The Inequity Story Continues. . .

  On May 15, 2019 (last week), Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce published a study, Born to Win, Schooled to Lose: Why Equally Talented Students Don’t Get Equal Chances to Be All They Can Be.

[CLICK HERE for this study]

   This study used data from a number of national longitudinal databases to investigate the impact of students’ socio-economic status in kindergarten on their college and career outcomes.  Among the databases used were: the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (to determine students’ socio-economic status); and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002.

   The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study’s 1998-1999 kindergarten cohort involved a representative sample of 21,260 kindergartners from across the country.  The Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 sampled a nationally representative group of over 15,000 10th graders from over 750 schools beginning in 2002.

   This study is important to our discussion of inequity because it (a) demonstrates that socio-economic inequity for students in kindergarten has dire, long-term effects; and (b) that schools with large numbers of poor students (many of whom are students of color) need more (not fewer—as shown in Part I of this Blog series) resources and funding to address these students’ needs.

   Here are the Key Findings from the Born to Win, Schooled to Lose study.

1. In America, it is often better to be rich than smart. Among the affluent, even a kindergartner with test scores in the bottom half has a 7 in 10 chance of reaching high SES among his or her peers as a young adult. But for similarly talented White, Black, Latino, and Asian children from low-SES families, the meager material supports available along the way to adulthood subvert nature’s generosity. Across racial and ethnic groups, a disadvantaged kindergartner with test scores in the top half has approximately a 3 in 10 chance of being high SES by the age of 25.

2. Even at an early age, environmental disparities by class, race, and ethnicity are evident in measures of children’s achievement. Only about a quarter of lowest-SES kindergartners have top-half math scores, compared to around three-quarters of highest-SES kindergartners. Children’s early scores also vary by race, in part because Black and Latino children are twice as likely as White children to come from lowest-SES families.

3. As children progress through primary school, they can improve on measures of achievement, but their chances of improvement correlate to their class status. Becoming high achieving is less likely for low-SES kindergartners with bottom-half math scores. By the eighth grade, fewer than 1 in 5 lowest-SES kindergartners with bottom-half math scores will score in the top half, compared to more than 2 in 5 highest-SES kindergartners with bottom-half math scores.

4. A child from an advantaged class is more likely to maintain high scores than one from a poor family, and White and Asian children are more likely to do so than Black or Latino children. For low-SES students with top-half math scores, staying at the top throughout their academic journeys is difficult. In addition, Black and Latino students with top-half math scores in kindergarten are less likely than their White and Asian peers to persist in earning top scores.

5. Achievement patterns are largely set by the time children enter high school. This is particularly evident for students with the lowest scores: students with bottom-quartile scores have difficulty improving their scores once they reach high school. Most tenth graders who score in the bottom math quartile will still score in the bottom quartile in twelfth grade.

6. High school achievement sets the stage for college attainment—but family class plays an even greater role. The highest-SES students with bottom-half math scores are more likely to complete a college degree than the lowest-SES students with top-half math scores.

7. Class mobility in America is limited—but education can be a lever for change. The lowest-SES tenth graders with top-half math scores are twice as likely to become high-SES (top-half) young adults as their peers with bottom-half math scores. Disadvantaged students who show promise can achieve, but their chances are better with interventions—and while lowest-SES tenth graders with bottom-half scores can become high SES, their chances are very slim.

   And here are some additional data from the study:

  • According to report, more-affluent students are often provided with more resources both in and out of school, which may benefit their education.
  • White and Asian tenth graders are more likely than Black and Latino tenth graders to earn a college degree in 10 years, no matter their high school math scores.
  • Most tenth-graders who score in the bottom math quartile maintain their low grades through twelfth grade.
  • Improving scores in high school is uncommon, but highest-SES students are twice as likely as lowest-SES students to move into a higher math quartile.
  • Lowest-SES tenth graders with top math scores are less likely to immediately enroll in a college than highest-SES tenth graders with bottom math scores.  These lowest-SES tenth graders also are less likely than highest-SES students to complete college 10 years later—regardless of their high school math scores.
  • Affluent children with low test scores have a 71% chance of becoming affluent adults at age 25, while poor children with high test scores only have a 31% of chance of becoming wealthy in adulthood.
  • The disparity becomes more severe when broken down by race. Fifty-one percent of black and 46% of Latino 10th graders with high math scores were more likely to earn a college degree within 10 years than similar students with low scores, but they were still less likely to early a college degree than their white and Asian high-scoring peers. Among the latter groups, 62% and 69%, respectively, received degrees.

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   All of these results crystallize the long-term impact of poverty.  And while the Georgetown University report did not analyze whether low-SES students attending better resourced schools had better outcomes, past research suggests that quality education and sound multi-tiered supports can mediate the impact of poverty.  This, then, reinforces the potential impact of “Core-Plus” funding for schools with high numbers of students from poverty. 

   In the end, addressing the problems outlined in the Georgetown University report is not just a moral imperative; it is a national economic and social imperative.  And this imperative is no less important than that highlighted in the 1983 A Nation at Risk report over three decades ago.

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Briefly Revisiting “Core-Plus Funding

   In Part I of this Blog series, we discussed Core-Plus Funding as one way to address inequities in school funding.  We noted that:

Core-Plus Funding occurs when, for example, every district in a state or every school in a district receives, each year, the core funding that it needs to run a successful multi-tiered instruction and support program for all of its students. The “plus funding” are the additional dollars that are given to districts or schools to support the services, supports, programs, and interventions needed by at-risk, underachieving, unresponsive, unsuccessful, and failing students.
This “plus funding” is allocated (a) for the service needs of existing students; (b) to compensate for student problems or deficiencies (e.g., from high-poverty schools) that have resulted because “plus funding” was absent in the past; and (c) to students who are at-risk, or are showing “early warning” signs, of future, potentially significant needs.
Core-Plus Funding must occur from the federal to state to district to school levels.  But a prerequisite to all of this, naturally, is adequate Core Funding that successfully supports the instructional, programmatic, resource, and related service needs for all of the students in every school.

   Unfortunately, there are no national studies identifying what states or school districts employ Core-Plus Funding processes (or the equivalent), which funding formulae work best, and whether Core-Plus Funding was producing positive student outcomes. 

   A June 6, 2018 Education Week article [CLICK HERE], “Equity in K-12 Funding More Complex than Just Dollars,” did a nice job of outlining the complexity of the relevant issues.  It also identified Wyoming as a state that was addressing both core and equity-based funding in an effective way, and Alaska as the only state that, in 2015, spent more money in its poverty-stricken districts than in its wealthier districts.

   Relative to Core-Plus funding in specific districts, a May 14, 2019 article (last week) in the74 noted equity-based funding in New Orleans’ schools as one of ten reasons why there has been an educational renaissance in that district.

[CLICK HERE for article]

   The article stated:

New Orleans’s public schools have shown significant growth and progress in the past 13 years. This progress did not happen overnight; it took passion, leadership, accountability, funding and focus to turn our education system around. The results are impressive. In 2005, 62% of New Orleans students attended the lowest-performing schools in the state, compared with just 8% in 2018. (The District’s) college-entry rate has risen from 37% in 2004 to 61% in 2017.
Equitable funding: Resources for our schools are allocated based on students’ unique needs.  New Orleans’s public schools are funded not only based on how many students they educate but also on the number of students with additional needs and the intensity of those needs. Schools get more funding if they educate more English learners, students who are overage for their grade and students with special needs. The special-needs funding is also proportional to the specific services each child requires.

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   While, as noted above, we are in our infancy relative to determining the best approaches to Core-Plus Funding, there is no question that we must—at the federal, state, and local levels—figure out how to address the inequities in educational funding and how this inequity impacts schools’ multi-tiered systems of support.

   But at the local level, the first step in this process is to identify students’ current needs.  With this information, at the very least, districts and schools can best align their existing funds, personnel, and resources to meet as many student needs as possible. 

   The remainder of this Blog will discuss this needs assessment process—one that we call the “Get-Go” process.  This is a process we have used across the country at the end of the school year to help schools identify and prepare for their diverse student needs on the first day of the new school year

   While the Get-Go process helps districts know how much “Plus Funding” different schools need as a function of their critical student needs, it also guides their distribution of staff and resources, and their decisions regarding professional development and teacher coaching.

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The Beginning of the School Year Starts in April

   While most schools are focused on student testing during the last months of the school year, this is also a crucial time to reflect on the “lessons learned” during the current school year so that they can inform and prepare everyone for the next school year

   This is a planned, summative evaluation process that potentially involves everyone in a school.  It could involve administration and staff, school leadership teams, and other committees or units (e.g., secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, custodians).  And it could focus on curriculum, instruction, or the delivery and impact of multi-tiered interventions by related services and other academic support staff.

   We have guided districts and schools through this current-to-next-school-year “articulation” process for over 35 years.  The theme of the process is:

         The beginning of the new school year starts in April.

The functional point of the theme is that:

When schools complete this organizational, curricular, instructional, intervention, and student evaluation process, they can use the data—beginning in April or May—to (a) align and adapt existing resources; (b) acquire and activate new resources; and/or (c) retire or reserve other, unneeded resources all to address as many students’ collective and individual needs on the first day of the new year.

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The “Get-Go” Process

   The “Get-Go” Process is part of this articulation process where the progress and current status of every student in the school is evaluated.  In most schools, this is best accomplished by using their existing data-management system to import and post the needed data into interactive student roster spreadsheets.

   These data are then reviewed by the grade-level teams of teachers with the involvement of administrators, related service professionals (e.g., counselors, school psychologists, and others), intervention specialists (including special education teachers), and selected others.  At times, the process also includes each grade level’s the “next highest” grade-level team—the teachers who will receive that grade-level cohort of students at the beginning of the next school year. 

     The goals of the Get-Go Process are to:

  • Complete a final, summative evaluation of the academic, and social, emotional, and behavioral progress of every student—including their attendance, medical and home/living status (as relevant), and their multi-tiered intervention status (again, as relevant).

A significant portion of these data are required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for every school’s annual report and Report Card.

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  • Use the information collected to help organize what classes and/or “home rooms” students will be assigned to for the next school year.

This is often done to ensure that every (especially elementary and middle school) classroom has only three functional skills groups in it so that teachers can successfully differentiate instruction.  This is also done so that all classroom teachers know the functional literacy, math, writing/language arts, and oral expression skill levels of all students—again, so that they can differentiate instruction, and in case they need to provide remediation, accommodations, or modifications.

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  • Identify and communicate the special needs (as identified during the process—see below) of specific students to the next year’s classroom teacher (or teaching team), as well as to the school’s administration and related services and support staff—so that the school is prepared to implement all necessary interventions starting on the first day of the new school year.

The last part of this goal is critical.  Students should not have to wait for effective instruction, or the services, supports, or interventions that they need to succeed in school until Day 2 of the school year—much less Day 5, Week 3, or beyond.  Especially for students with IEPs or 504 Plans, their services or interventions (by law) should be fully present and functional on the first day of school.

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  • To identify the resources and personnel needed to address the universal, strategic, and intensive needs of all students in a school prior to the end of the previous school year, so that (a) needed resources are coordinated or purchased during the summer, and (b) appropriate staff can be deployed or hired.

Thus, in addition to summarizing the progress of all general education students, it is especially critical to review—as part of the Get-Go process—the status and progress of all students who received strategic or intensive services during any part of a school year, as well as the status and progress of students with disabilities who are on either Individual Education or 504 Plans.  This review must include both the teachers and related services and other support staff (as relevant) who were primarily (and often cooperatively) responsible for these students’ school programs and programming.

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The Data and Decisions in the Get-Go Meetings

   In order to prepare for a Get-Go meeting, a Get-Go data collection spreadsheet or data management dashboard needs to be (established and) completed with all of the student data deemed important.  In addition, decision rules for the relevant Get-Go designations (see below) need to be confirmed.

   The spreadsheet data should include each student’s:

  • Demographic Background
  • Attendance and Medical/Speech/OT/PT Status and Information
  • Disability and ELL Status
  • Academic Status and Progress (including all formative and summative testing)
  • Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Status (including office discipline referrals, suspensions/expulsions, and counseling)
  • Student Assistance Team (SAT) and Multi-Tiered Intervention Status and Progress
  • Family and Residential Status and Notable Events
  • Community-based Services Status and Needs
  • Get-Go Status and Specific Areas of Concern  (Academic, Behavioral, Medical, Attendance, Other)

   Prior to and then confirmed at the actual Get-Go meetings, students are given one of four designations.  Students can be identified as Get-Go, At-Risk, Check-In, or No-Problem students, respectively.  These are defined below.

  • A “Get-Go” student is a student who needs immediate interventions in place on the first day of the new school year.  Students on IEPs, 504 Plans, and any other state-mandated intervention plan are automatically Get-Go students as their interventions, by law or regulation, must be in place on the first day of the new school year. 

However, a Get-Go student might be a medically fragile student, a student with a significant allergy, or some other special student situation that staff need to be prepared for even on the first day of the new school year. 

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  • An “At-Risk” student is a student who has received academic, behavioral, or other interventions during the past school year that were successful to the extent that they are not needed at the beginning of the new school year.  These interventions could have been implemented solely by the classroom teacher(s), or they might have involved an Academic or Behavioral Intervention Plan and other support staff. 

Regardless, despite the fact that interventions are not immediately needed at the beginning of the school year, current staff still believe that their colleagues at the next grade level need to understand the history and lessons learned regarding these specific students—in case the problems re-emerge or the transition to the new year is not fully successful. 

Thus, all new teachers for all At-Risk students are systematically briefed, verbally and through a written Student Briefing Report, on the history of the student, successful and unsuccessful interventions tried, and how to best transition the student into the new school year.

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  • “Check-In” students have received and have completed one or more successful interventions, and the staff feel that they will have no difficulties in transitioning to the next school year.  At the same time, the staff want to put one final “safety net” in place and have someone check in on the student at some point during the first quarter of the school year. 

Thus, when identifying Check-In students, the grade-level teams identify the area(s) of concern, when the check-in should occur (e.g., after Week 1, 2, 4, or 9), and who should complete the check-in and with whom.  For some students, the check-in simply involves running an attendance or office discipline report in the Office.  For others, it involves a scan of selected students’ report cards at the end of the first marking period.  And, for others, it involves asking a student’s teacher to complete a brief “Current Student Sheet” to provide some brief feedback on the student’s performance in the classroom.

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  • “No-Problem” students have made good progress during the current school year, and have no history or characteristics that their future teachers (and others) need to be brief on.  In most schools, the vast majority of the students typically are “No-Problem” students.

   While most students who are identified with one of the first three designations during the Get-Go process have academic or behavioral needs, some students may be identified, for example, because of (chronic) attendance issues (including being persistently late), because they have medical conditions that teachers and others need to know about prior to the new school year, or because of family issues that impact them at school and that are either historical in nature or that currently exist.

   As noted above, a student’s Get-Go status and any additional relevant information is put on the Get-Go Spreadsheet or Dashboard in preparation for and after the formal Get-Go meeting.

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   A typical Get-Go meeting agenda involves the following activities:

  • Introduction of the Attendees
  • Review of the Agenda
  • Review of the Goals of the Get-Go Process
  • Consideration of the No-Problem Student Consent Agenda
  • Review of All Remaining Students
  • Review of the Student Briefing Report Contents and Process
  • Review of the Students Who Need Student Briefing Reports Written
  • Open Discussion
  • Feedback and Summary

   During the No-Problem Student Consent part of the meeting, all of the attendees are asked to review the names of the students who were identified by their classroom teachers as No-Problem students prior to the formal meeting.  If anyone disagrees with a specific student’s No-Problem designation (that is, they believe the student to be a Get-Go, At-Risk, Check-In student—or they just want to discuss the student during the next part of the meeting), they can ask to have that student’s name removed from the Consent Agenda.  No additional discussion is needed, and this process and part of the meeting should take approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

   If, for example, 80% of the students in a grade level are considered to have “no problems,” and this is confirmed at this point in the Get-Go Meeting, then the grade-level team has now completed their Get-Go review of 80% of their students.  Thus, the preparation time invested before the formal Get-Go Meeting results in a time-effective and efficient meeting once everyone is “at the table.”

   Reviewing the Remaining Students during the Meeting.  Given all of the information already collected and reviewed, and the preliminary designations prepared individually by different teachers, this part of the meeting should go quickly (obviously, dependent on how many students are actually in the grade-level). 

   In essence, what typically happens is that (a) the Chair of the Meeting reads down a student roster (organized alphabetically or by a specific teacher’s classroom); (b) everyone at the meeting calls out a specific recommended designation (or participants put up their fingers representing a “Get-Go” vote—Three fingers to a “No-Problem” vote—No fingers); (c) the Chair oversees a brief discussion if a reconciliation is needed; and (d) the specific areas of concern are briefly discussed and recorded.

   All of this should take approximately one to three minutes per student, and the information pre-loaded into the Get-Go Spreadsheet or Dashboard typically is not made public during the “voting” process.  At the same time, because a lot of information has been pre-loaded, the time needed to record the “final” votes and areas of concern will proceed more expeditiously.

   Student Assistance Team Referrals.  During the Get-Go Meeting, there are times when students are discussed who (a) are academically struggling or demonstrating social, emotional, or behavioral challenges (that, for example, have not changed in response to office disciplinary referrals and actions), and (b) have not been considered by the Building-level Student Assistance Team as part of the school’s multi-tiered systems of supports process. 

   As needed, these students could be placed on a “Hit List” of students who need immediate Student Assistance Team attention—whether before the end of the school year, or at the very beginning of the new school year.

   Finalizing Lists of Specific Students and Concerns.  After the Get-Go Meetings, “Specific Concern Lists” can be generated and organized by the grade levels that students will attend the next school year.  These separate lists might include students with attendance, medical, disciplinary, disability-based needs, respectively. 

   Once generated, these lists should go to the school’s administrative and leadership teams, as well as other staff who oversee those areas. 

   For example, the Attendance and School/Classroom Tardy list should go to the Attendance Officer, Assistant Principal, and/or Chair of the Student Attendance committee.  This will allow them to make plans so that all students attend the first day of the new school year, and stay regularly thereafter.

   The Physical/Medical Issues list should go to the School Nurse for later distribution, for example, to the Physical Education Department, the Counseling/Mental Health staff, and the Transportation Department.  The latter “reach-out” ensures that bus drivers know which students have potential medical issues (e.g., seizure disorders, allergies to bee stings, asthma) in case they occur on the first day of the new school year.

   Most critically, at the administrative and leadership planning levels, virtually all of these lists—completed in April or May—will help to:

  • Place students in the best homerooms or academic classes or courses to maximize their academic progress during the next school year
  • Identify the multi-tiered academic staff, interventions, and groups needed for the coming year, organize students into the best groups possible, and schedule the groups
  • Identify the multi-tiered social, emotional, and/or behavioral staff, interventions, and groups (e.g., individual or group counseling) needed for the coming year, organize students into the best groups possible, and schedule the groups
  • Identify the multi-tiered academic or social, emotional, and behavioral materials, technology, or other resources needed to address Get-Go or At-Risk students’ needs
  • Prepare the next year’s teachers relative to the accommodations, modifications, and/or interventions needed for different students with disabilities

   All of these lists and planning are especially important when students are leaving one building in the district and going to another one (e.g., moving from elementary to middle, or middle to high school).

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   In Part I of this Blog series, we provided data from a number of sources showing that high-poverty non-white schools in this country receive significantly less money per pupil each year than high-poverty white schools and middle or upper class dominated schools, respectfully.  While this involves approximately 12.8 million students—many of them attending schools in urban settings—this is a nationwide problem.

   Because of the financial inequity, these high-poverty schools have fewer resources than middle or upper class-dominant schools, and they are typically staffed by less experienced teachers who have more skill gaps, and who resign from their schools more often and after fewer years in-rank.  In addition, the students in these schools typically have less access to high level science, math, and advanced placement courses, and less access to needed multi-tiered academic and social, emotional, and behavioral services, supports, programs, and interventions. 

   In this Part II, we added to the inequity discussion by reviewing a recent longitudinal study that identified the short- and long-term effects of poverty— focusing especially on the kindergarten through high school academic achievement of students who differed by family income, race, and ethnicity. 

   Once again, we emphasized the potential that schools and quality education can moderate the effects of poverty, but not when many of the schools that low-SES students attend receive significantly less money (as demonstrated in Part I of the series).  We recommended a “Core-Plus Funding” process as one way to address school-by-school inequity.

   Finally, we discussed the Get-Go process and how it can help districts determine how much “Plus Funding” different schools need as a function of their critical student needs, while also maximizing the use of district personnel and resources even when sufficient funding is not present.

   More specifically in the context of equity, the Get-Go process is instrumental in helping schools identify—prior to the next school year—the multi-tiered needs of students, especially those who are chronically absent, academically struggling, or already presenting with social, emotional, or behavioral challenges.  This helps the school determine—from a data-based perspective—the resources and personnel needed to address the universal, strategic, and intensive (“Core-plus”) needs of all students in a school before the summer begins.

   When completed by May, the results of the Get-Go process give the school and district enough time to ensure that (a) needed resources are coordinated or purchased during the summer, and (b) appropriate instructional, related services, and other support staff are assigned, trained, or hired.

   The Get-Go process also provides critical information to next year’s teachers and support staff regarding the “lessons learned” about students this year so that all teachers are fully prepared to teach, and all support staff are ready to provide services to all students on the first day of the new school year.

   In the end, a district’s multi-tiered services, supports, and interventions need to follow the students regardless of the schools that they attend.  Even when “enough” money is not present, this is still the essence of the Core-Plus process.

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   I understand the challenges and controversies related to funding, equity, and my suggestion of Core-Plus Funding.  I consult with many schools across the country for multiple years and many days per year.  At the same time, when working with districts that are committed both to the goal of Core-Plus Funding and to using the Get-Go process, we have always come close to meeting our collective goals.

   This is not to take our federal and state governments off the hook. 

   The $23 billion per year funding gap, favoring white over non-white districts and experienced by approximately 12.8 million of our nation’s students (reported in the Shanker Institute’s April, 2019 report, The Adequacy and Fairness of State School Finance Systems; described in Part I of this series) is a travesty.  It establishes a moral, social, and economic imperative for change.

   When will this be addressed?  Is there really anything to celebrate on this 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education?

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   As always, I appreciate those of you reading these thoughts.  If you have comments or questions, please contact me as desired.

   Note that we have number of Get-Go Process resources in our bookstore.  And I am always happy to provide a free one-hour conference call with you and your team at any time.

   Best wishes as you near the end of your school year.