A staffing review is a complex undertaking and must be thorough in its approach in order to provide district and school administrators with the information that will guide them in meeting a dual test: services for students that are embedded in effective practices research and the best use of available resources.
Stetson and Associates, Inc. uses a comprehensive approach for staffing reviews that considers four critical elements:
- Does the district have sufficient staff to provide special education services for students with disabilities?
- Does the district utilize the special education staff in an efficient manner?
- Is the staff assigned to serve students with disabilities effective?
- Are the staffing practices for students with disabilities appropriate?
The task of determining staffing needs at a school and across a district is challenging because the type and level of support required by each student is determined on an individual basis through the IEP committee, yet these student-by-student decisions are significantly impacted by numerous contextual variables. These variables include, but are not limited to, philosophy of administrators and teachers, school leadership factors, classroom practices that support diverse learners, the degree of collaboration and joint ownership for all learners across the entire faculty, and the ability of the leaders to organize the delivery of services through innovative scheduling and staffing practices.
The Staffing Review Process
A review of current staffing practices is accomplished through a variety of activities that includes analysis of data, interviews with administrative staff, information from focus groups, campus/classroom observations, and a review of state and district comparisons. In addition, a review of the current literature regarding special education staffing is conducted.
Specifically, the following activities are recommended for a comprehensive staffing review:
- Interviews with district leadership to identify the issues regarding special education staffing;
- Review of existing data regarding district staff including student enrollment, staffing assignment, roles responsibilities, enrollment by campus, disability condition, instructional arrangement, ethnicity, and related services;
- Review of current job descriptions and responsibilities of special education instructional, related services and support staff including caseload, schedules, and other information;
- Review of data from a comparison of like districts regarding staff numbers, student enrollment and teacher turnover;
- Campus visits and classroom observations on selected campuses;
- Interviews with related services staff and various specialists; and
- Focus group sessions with principals, special education teachers, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, and appraisal staff, speech/language pathologists and related services staff.