Case Study: Diagnostic Review Site Visits during COVID-19

In early 2020, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) engaged in a series of strategic conversations with SchoolWorks to create a protocol for the formative evaluation of 26 schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) in the cities of Providence and Woonsocket. Satisfying a mandated district review requirement for the state, the reviews would be used to inform an eventual district accountability system.

In accordance with Department objectives and the Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement, SchoolWorks developed a protocol for the reviews, which were to be conducted as 2-day in-person site visits in the Spring of 2020. But before visits began, school closures as a result of COVID-19 changed the course of this work. In response, SchoolWorks worked closely with RIDE to quickly adapt the protocol in order to conduct the evaluations using a 100% remote process.

The Challenge
  • Design a formative process for diagnostic reviews aligned to the Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement.
  • Adapt the designed protocol to accommodate a 100% remote process in the wake of COVID-19 school closures.
  • Schedule and facilitate 26 remote diagnostic reviews of Providence and Woonsocket schools in a condensed three-week time period before the close of the 2020 school year.
  • "It was an incredible feat to complete the reviews, as planned, despite the unforeseen circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 school closures. We are grateful for the flexibility and professionalism of the SchoolWorks team in helping us meet our objectives, and we have been pleased to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from school leaders who participated in the process. We look forward to maximizing the insights from this process to better serve Rhode Island students."
    - Maureen M. Dizon, Transformation Specialist, Rhode Island Department of Education
SchoolWorks Approach
  • Collaborated with RIDE stakeholders to ensure that the resulting protocol and process met all defined objectives and yielded insights aligned to future accountability efforts.
  • Recommended and established a process for remote adaptation of the diagnostic reviews consisting of 1) document review and 2) interviews and focus groups with administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and students facilitated via the Zoom platform.
  • Rapidly secured and trained 38 dedicated SchoolWorks review team members, providing additional training on remote accommodations to the process.
  • Worked closely with school principals to provide support for timely execution of the reviews and ensure minimal disruption to learning while reducing organizational strain amidst challenging circumstances related to the pandemic.
  • "I was concerned that [SchoolWorks] would not be able to capture our school’s culture in a two-day period, but much to my surprise the team shared an accurate picture of who we are. In addition, they provided data to support our hunches of areas that we needed to improve and/or strengthen. We thank the SchoolWorks team for validating for us many of the practices that we do well."
    - Sandra Stuart, Principal, George J. West Elementary
The Results
  • Using the adapted protocol, the SchoolWorks team completed 26 remote diagnostic reviews of designated Providence and Woonsocket schools between May 28 and June 17, 2020.
  • Despite the challenges of school closures, the remote process yielded an abundance of evidence to support decision-making and school improvement, including highly valuable input from all school stakeholders.
  • The 100% remote process minimized the burden for the schools and their staff, and maximized the use of valuable time for all participants.

Dates: Spring 2020

To learn more about SchoolWorks Virtual Site Visits, check out our blog post and fact sheet.

"Thank you, to the SchoolWorks team, for this comprehensive report. It is so well-written and detailed! At the risk of sounding a bit clich├ęd, I feel that the team was able to capture the essence of the culture of teaching and learning at Kennedy in just ten pages."
- Amy L. Burns, Ph.D., Principal, R. F. Kennedy Elementary

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