Comprehensive Needs Assessment Toolbook by Deborah Wahlstrom

Comprehensive Needs Assessment Toolbook

Designed to Turn You Into One Data Badass!


The Comprehensive Needs Assessment Toolbook is the go-to resource for developing an effective Comprehensive Needs Assessment. In the innovative format of OneNote, the toolbook has what you need at your fingertips, from your desktop, laptop, or smartphone. You’ll have access to hundreds of ideas for organizing your data, mastering your data-based decision-making, and bringing about improvements like the leader you are. 

Your personal copy of the Toolbook will make you smarter, by giving you plenty of ideas for designing a plan that has actions that truly lead to higher student achievement. And it doesn’t matter which data system you use. With your toolbook at hand, you’ll be able to analyze your data more accurately, create conversations that lead to lasting solutions, write goals that are easily monitored, and keep growing in your knowledge about data.

And, just to make sure you are supported even if you don’t’ have your own data system, you’ll also have a link to every template tool featured in the toolbook – and there are loads of them. Just punch your numbers in and the calculations will take care of themselves.

Use your toolbook to build data literacy while you build your Comprehensive Needs Assessment – and we’ll all watch your student achievement rise!

What's included?

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Comprehensive Needs Assessment.onepkg
139 MB


What is a Toolbook?

A Toolbook is a highly interactive book that supports the learning process and the implementation of ideas inside the book. I designed this Toolbook in OneNote because I wanted the best for you: You won't run out of room, you can continue to build data literacy within the Toolbook, you can implement ideas within the Toolbook, and so much more.

Who should use the Comprehensive Needs Analysis Toolbook?

Good question - and I do have a few ideas for that.

Team Members Working on a Comprehensive Needs Assessment
First of all, anyone who is working on a Comprehensive Needs Analysis would benefit from having his or her own toolbook. The toolbook is not only a learning tool, but it is a solid capture tool as well - take notes. Add information. Sketch out your own ideas. Set up the draft of your CNA. Anything goes. Here are some other ideas for who would benefit from the toolbook.

Workshop Leaders
The CNA Toolbook is a terrific workbook for a data workshop. You've got the basics in the book, and with over 70 educational examples of reports, you have plenty to share. Additionally, you can share your own activities and lessons - at the spot where they fit - to support conceptual integration of ideas! Will you ever look smart and thoughtful!

Principals and Assistant Principals
Your Toolbook will support your quest to know everything you can about data and use it to improve student learning.

District-Level Staff
Your Toolbook will support your quest to know using data at the central level and give you ideas about what schools need to perform better. With the ideas come the protocols and processes to use with your school improvement teams.

School Improvement Teams
Each member of a School Improvement Team will benefit from a copy of his or her or Toolbook as the go-to guide for developing and implementing an effective and efficient school improvement plan.

College and University Staff
Relevant lessons are in your hands with the Toolbook. If you are working with courses or programs that help prepare administrators, teachers, and other educators to work with data, the Toolbook certainly makes sense. It's built around the practical and real-world experiences and needs of schools at all levels and all types. I can already imagine the project-based experiences you'll be designing and the happy districts you'll have because your students will know their data because you based your lessons on the Toolbook. Your students will finish your course with a practical Toolbook they will again and again.

State-Level Organizations
For those state organizations wanting to support priority schools, the Toolbook is a strong way to do so. Combine this with the great training you do, and you've got a formula for building confidence with those you serve. People will appreciate receiving tools they can use that seem developed just for them. They will love you for providing this.

State Departments of Education
For those states where data literacy is important, this Toolbook provides a unique and innovative platform to support administrators and teachers in building capacity. The regular version of the Toolbook is perfect, but we can also talk about customizing the Toolbook for your state. With a fairly quick turn-around time, the Toolbook can reinforce areas that you know need reinforcement using data from your state.

School District/Divisions
Throughout the country, school districts are working hard to help staff become more data literate. The Toolbook will support the learning and implementation of using data of staff in your district. The Toolbook can save your own staff hundreds and hundreds of hours of time developing material - and let them use that time supporting their schools in implementation of good data practices. So much better for everyone.

Data and Instructional Coaches
Coaches have much to share and a good coach needs to be able to walk into a situation and be able to support the needs of whomever they are coaching. Where do you learn what kinds of questions you might ask for a certain piece of data? How do you learn to ask questions that help people dig deeper into their data? How do you help a school figure out what its real needs are? The Toolbook will support you in answering these important questions, and more!

Can the CNA Toolbook be used with any school improvement model?

Yes! The ideas in the Toolbook will support you as you implement your improvement model, no matter which one you use. You do not need to change your model to use the Toolbook. When I designed the Toolbook, I intentionally wanted it to be model-neutral to ensure anyone, using any model, would benefit from the ideas in the Toolkit.

Does the CNA Toolbook replace the data system we now use?

No. Keep using your data systems. The Toolbook is not a data system, although it is a system for working with and thinking about data. The ideas are in a Toolbook as a way to organize materials for you. Chances are, you'll see a graph or chart similar to one your system produces. That just means you won't need to use the template that's provided because you already have it. For those, you'll still want to use the Analysis Questions and Factors to Analyze that are companions to the graph or chart.

Does the Toolbook cover everything we need for our Comprehensive Needs Assessment?

Pretty much, it includes everything you need - from the collection of data, to how you organize and analyze that data, prioritize it to the two or three focus areas for the year, figure out the root causes for those focus areas, develop effective action steps/strategies, putting everything into the school plan, implementation, and monitoring. 

Did I mention it meets the requirements ESSA has for a Comprehensive Needs Assessment?

Are there new ideas in the Toolbook?

Yes there are. Here are just a couple.

Root Cause Analysis is very important. I go beyond the 5 Whys and the Fishbone Diagram to figure out the root causes. I love both of these techniques, but sometimes we really need something more.  As I determined which techniques to place into the Toolbook, I thought about what tools bring what we need to know in the shortest amount of time. Effectiveness and efficiency. If you're working with a priority school, it would not be unusual to have a group of new teachers and other new staff members with which you are working. The Fishbone Diagram requires an experience base that new teachers don't yet have. So the CNA Toolbook provides the innovative Factors to Analyze for every Data Display in the Toolbook - which ensures that a school team has a deep discussion about what matters most related to the piece of data with which they are working. JACKPOT. Staff members begin to figure out the root cause.

The Data Analysis Questions are also included for every Data Display. This is done in response to my experiences with hundreds of school teams and teaching them how interpret data. Current research supports this. Most educators just are not very good at analyzing data. They need support. The Data Analysis Questions ensure that staff analyze the data correctly, efficiently, and effectively - without rushing to find a solution.

Processes such as the Digraph are included. I provided ideas and the "how-to" for Root Cause Analysis, such as the Digraph. The Digraph has numerous uses in the continuous improvement process, and not many schools use it. My hope is that schools will run with it after learning more about it from the Toolbook.

School Improvement Resources

Know data. Know answers.