Comprehensive Needs Assessment and Title IV

It’s that time of year for districts to begin the comprehensive needs assessment, starting with stakeholder surveys.  These surveys are often provided to parents, teachers, and students.  In addition to the surveys, an excellent comprehensive needs assessment includes data that enables an efficient review of the current year and prior years’ successes and challenges.   So, how does one gather and sort the data that yields the necessary information while meeting all federal planning guidelines?

The CNA survey is a beneficial tool.  Based on the chosen questions, the survey can evaluate the current program and provide input into the planning process.  This survey goes out to all stakeholders, i.e., parents and community, teachers, and students.  Since there are no guidelines for conducting the needs survey or the format in which it should be performed, LEAs have various options.  Some Federal Programs Directors conduct their surveys in-house using a district-created survey such as Google Forms, while others utilize an outside firm to administer their survey.  In my experience as Federal Programs Director, I have done both.  The in-house survey generally costs nothing except time.  It takes time to create and dispatch the survey, encourage completion, analyze the data, put the information into an understandable format, and present it.  I found that as Federal Programs Director, this time – my time – was costly.  The alternative of an outside company carrying the responsibility for all the processes of conducting a needs assessment survey was necessary for me to consider.  I found Education Resources, a company that would work closely with me to develop the survey, administer and monitor the responses, analyze the data, and write a summary report, all for a reasonable cost.  In addition, all the information was aligned with the State Department application requirements, making completing the federal application easier.  As a bonus, the reports are presented in a 4-color format ready for presentation to superintendents, school boards, and all stakeholders.  Education Resources can go beyond the questionnaire, take much of the data the LEA has available, and include it in the report.  A dashboard is available that allows the district to see the data in real-time.  The company works very closely with the Federal Programs Director to meet the needs of the LEA; they want to make the Federal Programs Director’s job a little easier.

As in prior years, Title IV also requires a needs assessment.   Title IV stakeholder engagement can be a part of your overall CNA survey.  The key is to ensure you have questions on the survey that directly address the three categories in Title IV – well-rounded education, safe and healthy, and effective use of technology.  These questions should provide feedback that directs the spending of Title IV funds.  Other data should be considered when developing the survey and subsequent report.  Consider data such as the number of dual enrollment classes, access to ACT/SAT testing, chronic absenteeism, dropout rates, availability of school nurses, counselors, etc.  This data can be provided to include in the report.  Federal regulations only require Title IV surveys of districts receiving $30,000 or more in Title IV allocations; however, it doesn’t hurt to include these questions on your annual CNA.

Since the FY25 Comprehensive Federal Program Application will be released in March this year, having the data from the comprehensive needs assessment survey will be beneficial in planning.

Good luck in conducting your CNA.  May it yield beneficial results.

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