RPIC ICS Implementation Digital Module 7: Re-Align Staff and Students
© 2015 to 2023. Elise M. Frattura and Colleen A. Capper. School Modules for ICS Equity. All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, modify, or distribute this work without written consent from the authors. Please email [email protected] to obtain such permission.
I. Current Practices Based on Common Assumptions
Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams are intentionally situated within Digital Module 7/Step 7, as realigning staff is Step 7 in the ICS Equity Framework and Process because it is necessary for all staff to work through the content of Steps 1-6 in Cornerstone 1 prior to doing so. Working through the first 6 steps in the ICS Equity Framework and Process sets up the “why” behind the need to shift structures through re-imagining a proactive, equitable educational system. The first 6 ICS Equity Steps also help us to understand how to not just discuss equity, but to operationalize equity change that intentionally interrupts oppressive structural and instructional practices.
As we have learned in Digital Module 1/Step 1, the current structural and instructional practices in school districts across the country are deficit-based. Specifically, our current system is premised on a deficit perspective that purports that the primary reason for student failure is the student themselves. We contend that the student is not the problem, as the educational system has been historically constructed to maintain a white, male, cisgender, straight, middle class, able bodied, English speaking normative. The educational system then perpetuates oppressive and marginalizing practices for students who do not fit such a normative and in so doing, denies them access to high expectations and high-quality learning.
In Digital Module 2/Step 2, we discussed how myths, stereotypes, and biases can perpetuate deficit perspectives that are reinforced through our language and practices. In Digital Module 3/Step 3 we emphasized the importance of understanding our own identities of marginalization and privilege, as a pathway to better understanding those identities that are different than our own. The more we understand our own identities and those of others the greater our ability to lead and operationalize the work of educational equity.
In a deficit-based system, students are identified for specific services or programs, such as but not limited to: Tier 2, Tier 3, at-risk, special education, alternative education, or English language learning. The student is then placed in a separate program or is tracked into lower ability groups and classes that remove the student from the core of teaching and learning or add additional minutes of supplemental instruction. These practices are based on an assumption that grouping children by perceived academic performance, assessment, skills, or knowledge is effective. In Digital Module 4/Step 4 we learned that there is little to no data to support practices of tracking and ability grouping or any form of segregation as a means to increase student achievement (Hattie, 2011, Oakes, 1997, NEA, 2013). As some educators will express, ability grouping may result in the increase of the child’s performance initially, within the setting the instruction is provided, but it does not have any longitudinal impact.
Concomitantly, those students who can synthesize the most information are the students who receive the most cohesive instruction. The lack of cohesive alignment of adults (e.g., special and general educators, ELL teachers, reading specialists, interventionists, speech and language, at-risk, etc.) results in the most fragmented day for the same students who require the most comprehensive, cohesive, proactive support within Tier 1. Furthermore, it maintains a deficit-based system as the adults are not able to collaborate to develop each other’s capacity to serve a diverse student normative. Thus resulting in the students who need the most structure, routine, consistency, and predictability in their day, often being the same students who must leave in the middle of a class to attend a special pull-out session, or clustered to the back of the room, often receiving excessive amounts of remedial instruction through ability grouping, or segregated in separate or lower tracked classes altogether. As a result, these students spend more time in transitions (versus instruction) and are expected to transfer and synthesize information from different environments and teachers back to the core of teaching and learning; all while experiencing a stereotype threat (Steele, 2010).
2. Equitable Best Practices
For continuity and consistency, the Equity Non-Negotiables (Digital Module/Step 5: Develop Equity Non-Negotiables) that intentionally interrupt the problems of such a deficit system, must be agreed upon and used as a guide to reconstructing a system based on student assets and teacher expertise. Below are the ICS Equity Non-Negotiables discussed in Digital Module 5/Step 5:
- Eliminating inequities begins with ourselves.
- The system is responsible for student failure.
- All staff are aligned to Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams to support cohesive instruction.
- Students are proportionally represented in the core of teaching and learning.
- C3 Teams intentionally develop each other’s capacity.
- Instruction is based on Identity Relevant Teaching and Learning (IRTL) and created for each learner the first time the concept/skill is taught through heterogeneous small group instruction.
- Policies and funding are aligned to these Equity Non-Negotiables.
Equity Non-Negotiable Number 3 (All staff are aligned to Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn Teams (C3) to support cohesive instruction that, intentionally interrupts a deficit-based system.):
To create C3 Teams, all educators, including specialists (e.g., special educators, ELL, at-risk, interventionists, Title 1, etc.) are aligned to grade-level teams. These C3 Teams proactively support the proportional representation of students, all of whom represent a diverse normative. Such a proactive system of supports is grounded in the understanding, and affirmed by federal law that special education, multilingual support, gifted services, reading support, etc., are all services and not locations where students are placed. For example, special educators are assigned to grade-level teams, dependent on student need, and across special education categories (rather than assigned caseloads by disability, content, or intensive program). Within C3 Teams, each teacher’s gifts and talents (expertise and certification) are combined with each other to Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn together. In so doing, staff move from aligning their supports to students, to aligning with adults to build Collective Equity Capacity (CEC) and together, proactively educate all learners.
As discussed further in Digital Module 11/Step 11, the district reallocates resources for the development of teacher capacity on C3 Teams. Whereas, the district avoids piecemeal, add-on efforts, such as adding additional teaching assistants or purchasing curriculum or professional learning that perpetuates the segregation of students, efforts serving as band-aids and reinforce the deficit system.
3. ‘Operationalizing’ Our Work
Upon completion of the initial Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity Institute Part I:
District and School Leadership Teams (DLT’s and SLT’s), are able to lead the process and content of the ICS Equity Framework and Process. Adhering to the process is essential to the success of the work moving forward. Therefore, the following steps are organized by year of implementation based on the ICS Equity research-based implementation process.
Year 1 of the ICS Equity Process:
During the first year of implementation, the School Leadership Team facilitates all of Cornerstone 1 and the Digital Modules/Steps 1-6 within Cornerstone 1. Cornerstone 1 forms the “why” behind the equity changes in Cornerstones 2, 3, and 4. Oakes (1997) reiterated the importance of this grounding before moving forward with other equity changes:
“… schools that move from homogeneous to heterogeneous instructional groupings confront not only the logistical problems of restructuring but also the deeply held beliefs of colleagues, parents, about intelligence and privilege that [wrongfully] legitimize tracking especially in racially and socioeconomically mixed schools.”
Deeply held beliefs that perpetuate segregation must be challenged. School Leadership Teams may find it necessary to take additional time working through and applying the work in Digital Modules/Steps 1-6 with their colleagues, in order to better connect these steps to the history and culture of their schools and local communities in an authentic and meaningful manner.
When School Leadership Teams begin the work of Digital Module/Step 8 and re-imagine school structures to C3 teams, they must first work out the details on paper within the School Leadership Team. This step is necessary, whether your school is one that is grounded in Cornerstone 1 and the understanding of historical educational practices of marginalization, or your school requires more time to complete additional Cornerstone 1 activities such as a shared book reading, community panels, etc. Therefore, at the end of Year 1, the School Leadership Team will practice re-imagining how all staff are aligned on paper first, to build Collective Equity Capacity (CEC) through Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams. The following is a symbolic visual of C3 Teams. The image reflects three-grade level teachers and those educators who represent the disciplines required for that specific grade and student make-up to develop their Collective Equity Capacity.
Next, we list each of the stages and steps the School Leadership Teams will work through to re-imagine and intentionally create Co-Plan to C0-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams.
Stage 1: List the Staff and Certification
Table 1: Step a: In the ICS Application section, you’ll list all staff in the school (general and special educators, title staff, reading and math interventionist, Learners who are Learning English, at-risk, speech and language, advance learners support, etc.)
Stage 2: List the Student Data
- List all grade levels in your school
- List the number of students in each grade level
- List number of students by disabilities, ELL, receiving Tier 2 and 3 interventions, and advanced learners
- Align staff to function as Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn teams (C3) based on needs of the students and staff expertise.
- Add FTE for related service staff
- Confirm appropriate certification
Schools were created for students who they believe represent the “perceived normative”, and segregated and marginalizing programs and practices were created for students outside of that normative. Therefore, it is essential when re-imagining the educational structure, to begin with how the school is currently structured, such as by grade levels, multi-age, courses, academies, etc. In the elementary example provided, the school is structured by traditional grade levels.
Table 2: Step b. In the ICS Application section, you’ll list all grade levels in your school
In Table 3, Step c, the School Leadership Team will list the number of students at each grade level. This includes any child that is educated in a clustered or separate program. Specifically, when we use the language “all learners”, we mean that every single child that attends your school and their specific grade level.
Table 3: Step c. List the number of students in each grade level
Step d includes any child that is educated in a clustered or separate program. Specifically, when we use the language “all learners”, we mean every single child that attends your school and their specific grade level.
Table 4: Step d. List the number of students by disabilities, ELL, receiving Tier 2 and 3 interventions, and advanced learners
In Table 5, Step e, the School Leadership Team begins the process of re-aligning all staff to specific grade-level teams. The alignment of staff is completed by acknowledging the needs of the students at each grade level, as well as the expertise of the general education teachers at each grade level. The most important goal is to create teams that have complementary skills across individuals.
As an example, if the content teachers assigned to that grade level do not have a strong reading background, then it may be important to align the reading specialist to that specific grade level team for a greater percentage of the time, and less time on a team where teachers have such expertise. As a second example, if there is a child at a specific grade level who has a specific need, such as autism, it will be important to align the special educator to that team who has greater expertise and certification (when appropriate) in the area of autism.
Table 5: Step e. Align staff to function as Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams based on needs of the students and staff expertise.
In Table 6, Step f requires the School Leadership Team to list the related service staff that should be aligned to each C3 Team based on the needs of the students in that specific grade level.
Table 6: Step f. Add FTE for related service staff.
Lastly, in Table 7, Step h, the School Leadership Team confirms that all educators have the appropriate certification for the grade level in which they are assigned.
Table 7: Step h. Confirm appropriate certification
The following is a completed template for the realignment of an Elementary School to function in a proactive manner through Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams.
Table 8: Completed Example of Elementary Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Serve (C3) Team
Stage 3: Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn Planning Times
In Table 9, the School Leadership Team specifies when each C3 Team will meet to Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn. Many schools work hard to provide consistent times for C3 Teams to meet. For example, meeting opposite specials, before or after school, during early release opportunities, etc. Scheduling time for co-planning is difficult, but is one task, if not the most important task, a School and District Leadership Team can address. When determining meeting times, it will be important to attend to those staff members who are split between two or more grade levels and thus schedule times meetings on different days and/or times. In this manner, all staff on all C3 Teams are consistently able to attend each Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn meeting.
Table 9: C3 Team Meeting Times
Stage 4: Creating Proportional Representation in Tier 1/Every Classroom
The final step to Re-Align Staff and Students to C3 Teams includes creating a plan to proportionally represent all students in all classrooms (including students who are attending another school in your district or outside the district based on label or need), on paper first. Keep in mind that there are no segregated, clustered, pull-out or resource rooms or low tracked classes in your school when students are proportionally represented in the core of teaching and learning. We define natural proportions in detail in Digital Module 6/Step 6. We have provided an excerpt defining proportional representation from Digital Module/Step 6 below:
Proportional representation means that the demographics of students labeled for special education, for students labeled as English Language Learners, and labeled as advanced learners or gifted in the school are proportionally reflected in every classroom, course, activity, setting, or experience. For example, if 12% of students in the school are labeled with a disability, then no more than 12% of students in any classroom, course, activity, setting, or experience are students labeled with a disability. As another example, if 12% of the students in the school are labeled with a disability and 20% of the students in the school are linguistically diverse, and there are six third grade classrooms, then no more than 12% of students in each third-grade classroom has a disability and no more than 20% of students in each classroom are linguistically diverse. Students who are linguistically diverse and students who have disabilities are equally assigned across these six classrooms to reflect their proportion in the school.
In sum, proportional representation refers to students labeled with a disability, students as labeled English language learners, and students as labeled gifted/advanced learners. We do not mean that students should be proportionally assigned to classrooms based on race, social class, gender, or other identifiers. We have found that if schools assign students labeled with disabilities, labeled as English Language Learners, or labeled as gifted, in proportional ways relative to their proportion in the school, then students will be more naturally heterogeneously placed by gender, race, and social class.
School Leadership Teams can use the Proportional Representation by Classroom Table, Table 10 below, to create a proportional representation of all learners in your school at each grade level and classroom.
Table 10: Step a: Design a plan for proportional representation of all students in the core of teaching and learning.
[INSERT NEW TABLE FROM ELISE!!]
Digital Module 7/Step 7 – Junior High Schools and High Schools:
The Steps to realigning for Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams are described in the elementary example above, however, High Schools and Junior High Schools have additional steps for leveling up to proportionally represent all learners in Tier 1. Specifically, there are five stages and their associated steps for High Schools and Junior High Schools described below to assist teams in identifying courses to level-up, list staff and certification, list student demographics by content areas and grade levels.
Summary of Stages/Steps for Junior High/School C3 Teams:
Stage 1: Develop a Level-Up Plan
Stage 2: List the Staff and Certification
Step a: List all staff in the school (often 3 different tables for the content specialist, support specialist, and elective specialist)
Stage 3: List the Student Demographic Data
Step b: List the number of students in each grade level
Step c: List the number of students by disabilities
Step d: List the number of students who are ELL
Step e: List the number of special educators per grade level, at-risk teachers, ELL, reading specialist, para-professionals, bilingual support staff, and interpreters.
Stage 4: Creating of Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn Teams (C3) by Grade Level and Content Areas
Step a. Identify the grade level and content areas that C3 Teams will be created
Step b. List the number of sections and content teachers for each subject at the grade level
Step c. List the staff that will be aligned to each team
Step d. Summarize the creation of the Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams
Stage 5: Creating Proportional Representation in Tier 1/Every Classroom
We provide a high school example for each of the Stages for which School Leadership Teams can clearly see how a Junior High School is reflected in the same process and example.
Stage 1: Develop a Level-Up Plan
The importance of leveling up at the High School and Junior High School level cannot be underestimated. As we know, team-taught, low-tracked classes do not positively impact student achievement (Hattie, 2017). Such leveling up would need to be completed for each content area at each grade level that was leveled or that had tracked courses. We use the terminology leveling up, as it is essential to discuss the proactive direction the school is going, rather than the dismantling of lower tracked classes.
After the School Leadership Team completes the process, on paper first, reflecting the trajectory to level up for the school across all content areas, the SLT can complete their projections and create Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams for the content sections that are proportionally represented. Prior to creating Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn teams at the secondary level, it will be essential to create a plan and timeline to level-up classrooms as shown in Table 11 below.
To complete a Leveling Up analysis, follow the following steps:
- Pick one grade level
- Pick one content area
- Write this year in the second yellow column followed by the next 4 academic years
- Delineate the number of students projected for each year
- List the courses that are leveled from most rigorous to least for the specific content area
- List the number of sections and number of students for the current year for each level of the content area
- Level up – by taking a lower-level course and merging it with the sections that are more rigorous
Table 11: Develop Leveling Up Plan: Example Math
After completing a leveling-up plan for each leveled content area, the secondary School Leadership Team may move on to Stage 2.
Stage 2: Delineate the Staff and Certification
- List all staff in the school (often 3 different tables for the content specialists, support specialists, and elective specialists)
The Secondary Template is the same as the Elementary Template when listing of the current staff. The example provides a list of staff by discipline, by a content area, and then a second list by support staff. Below is an example of content and support staff specialists.
Table 12: a. Complete Example of Listing all staff in the school (often 3 different tables for the content specialist, support specialist and elective specialist)
Stage 3: Delineate Staff and Student Data
Once the secondary SLT has completed the leveling-up plan across all content areas and listed all staff in the school, they are able to move on to creating their Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams in Table 13 below. Below is a detailed delineation of the Stage 3 steps within the secondary plan:
- List the number of students in each grade level
- List the number of students by disabilities
- List the number of students who are ELL
- List the number of special educators per grade level, at-risk teachers, ELL, reading specialists, paraprofessionals, bilingual support staff and interpreters.
This includes any child that is educated in a low track classroom and clustered or a separate program. Specifically, when we use the language “all learners”, we mean every single child that attends your school and their specific grade level.
Table 13: b. List the number of students
Step c should include any child that has been determined eligible for special education, ELL, At-Risk, etc. Specifically, when we use the language “number of students”, we mean every single child that attends your school and their specific grade level.
Table 14: c. List the number of students by disabilities
Table 15: d. List the number of students who are ELL
In Table 16, in Step e, the School Leadership Team begins the process of re-aligning all staff to each grade level. The alignment of staff is completed by acknowledging the needs of the students at each grade level in each course as well as the expertise of the general education teachers at each grade level and content area. The most important goal is to create teams that have complementary skills across individuals. For example, if the content teachers assigned to that grade level do not have a strong background in proactive individual behavioral supports, then it may be important to align a specialist with proven experience in the area of behavior for a greater percentage of time to that team, and less time on a team where teachers have such an expertise in behavior. In addition, if there is a student at a specific grade level who has a specific need, such as autism; it will be important to align the special educator to that team who has greater expertise and certification (when appropriate) in the area of autism.
Table 16: e. List the number of special educators per grade level, at-risk teachers, ELL, reading specialists, paraprofessionals, bilingual support staff, and interpreters.
Table 17: Completed Example of Staff/Student Alignment
Stage 4: Create of Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn Teams (C3) by Grade Level AND Content Areas
After completing Stage 3, collection of the secondary data for creating Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams by grade level, Stage 4 then aligns staff within grade levels to content areas (see Table 18).
Table 18: a. Align to Grade Level and Content Areas
Table 19: b. List the number of sections and content teachers for each subject at the grade level
In Step c, the School Leadership Team takes one more step to align professionals within each grade level to content teams based on the leveling up plan. It is important to keep as few as educators at each grade level and content areas (see Table 20 below).
Table 20: Step c. Align Staff to Each Grade Level Content Team
Scheduling time for co-planning is difficult, but is one task, if not the most important task, a School and District Leadership Team can address. Teams can meet during shared planning times, before/after school, during early release, or professional learning days, among other options.
Table 21: d. Summarize the Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams
Table 22: Completed Example of Creation of Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams by Content Areas
In Stage 5, the School Leadership Team confirms that each course and classroom demographics assigned to the C3 Team is proportionally represented.
Table 23: Stage 5: Creating Proportional Representation in Tier 1/Every Classroom
From this point, the School Leadership Team (SLT) may specifically define the Co-Planning and Co-Serving Teams (CTT’s) of experts, who will co-plan to co-serve all learners. In this manner, they are able to schedule specific co-planning times to develop lesson plans based on the principles of Identity Relevant Teaching and Learning (IRTL) (See Digital Module 10).
Year 2 of the ICS Equity Process:
In Year 2 of the ICS Equity implementation process, the SLT’s will attend the ICS Equity Institute Part 2 – Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) where they will learn the details of Cornerstone 3 and 4, Digital Modules/Steps 9-13. Then, in year 2 of implementation, the SLT will facilitate Digital Modules/Steps 9-13 with all staff.
In Digital Module 9, we will go into detail about how to function as Collective Equity Capacity Team members, whose primary role is to assist in the development of each other’s capacity to better proactively educate each and every learner through principles of Identity Relevant Teaching and Learning (IRTL) for all students. We will review the many options of teams and their transitions from one year to the next. Specifically, is it important to loop? Should Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn teams remain together each year? How do we create a Co-Plan? How do we Co-Serve and better understand Co-Learning?
3. Operationalizing Equity
Year 3 of the ICS Equity Process:
In Year 3, the School Leadership Team updates all alignment plans with the current student and staff data, confirms Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams, and moves into proportionally representing all students in classrooms with their appropriately assigned C3 Team.
4. Creating Our Plan: Cornerstone 2: Align Staff and Students; Digital Module 6/Step 6: Re-Align Staff and Students:
In the following ICS Application, you’ll, discuss and then delineate the current practices that must be interrupted, and discuss future recommendations of how to share the information in this Digital Module, along with the steps necessary to ‘operationalize’ such recommendations.
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Oakes, J.; Jones, M. Datnow, A. (1997). Detracking: The Social Construction of Ability, Cultural Politics, and Resistance to Reform. March 1997.
Steele, Claude. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi : and other clues to how stereotypes affect us. New York :W.W. Norton & Company.