RMC Research has recently been selected by the Colorado Department of Education as an approved contractor for conducting diagnostic reviews and is currently conducting these reviews in nine schools for the Aurora Public Schools. Reviews entail 3-5 day visits by an experienced team who analyzes practices using CDE Standards for Quality.
RMC Research has been conducting diagnostic audits in Colorado since 2003, first serving as school support team developers and then serving as service providers to Colorado districts. We have provided district-level diagnostic reviews for the Denver Public Schools and school-level diagnostics for Aurora Public Schools. To date, we have conducted 15 school-level audits in Colorado. (In addition, RMC Research has provided customized diagnostic audits in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, North Carolina, and New York. We have assisted in the development of audit systems in 27 states and for The Broad Foundation; we also developed the Blue Ribbon Schools approach. During the past 12 years, we have conducted approximately 25 district audits and over 100 school audits/quality reviews.)
RMC Research customizes its diagnostic reviews to align with state and local standards and will update our approach to align completely with the revised Colorado standards and indicators. The Colorado diagnostic audit includes measurement of Standards and Instructional Planning; Best First Instruction; Assessment of and for Learning; Tiered Support; Leadership; Culture and Climate; Educator Effectiveness; and Continuous Improvement. The reviews collect evidence from each indicator that defines the standard and each of the descriptors that comprise the indicator and standard. For example, under Standards and Instructional Planning, RMC Research will collect evidence for each indicator(standards-based focus; guaranteed and viable curriculum; and instructional planning; and each descriptor for each indicator. We aggregate evidence to provide a rating for the indicator and standard as a whole.
RMC Research also aligns its work with district standards and priorities. For example, before conducting diagnostic reviews for the Aurora Public Schools, RMC Research staff met with Aurora leaders to ensure understanding and alignment with district priorities and policies and added rubrics to ensure close alignment. For example, RMC added rubrics to address the tiered support approach being used in the district, along with a rubric that specifically addressed identification of students for special education using the district’s updated RtI/MTSS approach.
Our system has rubrics, customized protocols/instruments developed to collect and triangulate data for all rubrics; and a report template that provides a rating, evidence to support the rating, and recommendations for improvement. Evidence for each indicator is collected from representatives of at least three stakeholder groups.
The process we use is to communicate directly with the district first to ensure that we understand priorities and collect any information we need to customize the approach (only adding to the indicators, not subtracting any.) We then work with the principal to schedule all aspects of the pre-visit, onsite visit, and debrief components of the visit. In advance of the visit, we analyze school data, the Unified Improvement Plan, and other pertinent documents (e.g. READ Act applications and evaluations; information about any grants the district may have; and other documents that help us to understand the school, including reviewing the school’s website. We collect information during a two to three day visit that includes 2-hour interviews with principals; 60-minute interviews and focus groups with teachers, para-professionals, students, and parents; and short (5-15 minute) interviews with all staff, including secretarial and clerical staff and custodians. We also observe every classroom. This helps to ensure that we receive comprehensive sets of information representing multiple perceptions and points of view, and promotes buy-in in using the results for improvement since everyone has input and every staff member has a role to play in the improvement process.
The number of staff we bring to the visit depends upon the size of the school. Typically we have 3-4 staff present for urban and suburban elementary and middle schools; 4-6 staff for urban and suburban high schools; and 2-3 staff for rural elementary, middle, and high schools.
For more information or to schedule a diagnostic review for your school or district, please contact Dr. Shelley H. Billig – firstname.lastname@example.org