PAR procedures and timeframes are designed to provide minimum disruption to normal school or program activities yet allow adequate time to analyze data; observe operating programs and classroom practices; and interview selected key staff, related support personnel, and selected community partners. PAR consists of seven phases: (1) Preparation; (2) Data Review and Analysis; (3) School Site Visits; (4) Review and Analysis of School Visit Data; (5) Report and Discussion; (6) Action Planning; and (7) Implementing Action Plan.
Phase 1: Preparation
The purpose of the Preparation phase is to allow the local district to make a firm commitment to participate in the PAR process and establish a structure for involvement. The tasks performed during this phase include the following:
- The district and school will make a commitment to engage in the PAR process;
- The district and school will establish a Local Action Team (LAT) and identify other organizations and agencies to provide support to the LATs;
- The LAT will select a chairperson;
- NDPN will create a list of specific preliminary data to be assembled by the schools/districts such as achievement scores; attendance; retention; dropout statistics; any previous pertinent study data; and student, staff, and community demographics;
- The LAT will gather requested information and data to forward to NDPC; and
- The LAT will administer one of the following school climate measures to students, parents, and teachers: the School Climate Survey (National Study of School Evaluation), the Student Success Profile (School of Social Work, UNC Chapel Hill), or other instruments used locally.
Phase 2: Data Review and Analysis
The intent of the Data Review and Analysis phase is to compile all pertinent information and begin the preliminary review process. The responsibilities in this phase include the following:
- LAT members will conduct a general review of the existing school data and forward pertinent data to NDPC, such as: achievement scores, attendance, retention, dropout statistics, and student, staff, and community demographics;
- The LAT will send results of the School Climate Surveys to NDPC; and
- PAR facilitators will conduct a thorough review and analysis of school data forwarded from the LAT and the results of the School Climate Surveys.
Phase 3: School Site Visit
A major component of the PAR process is the external review team’s on-site visit, which is designed to study the current policies and practices in the school, review various school and community conditions that support student performance, gather opinions and perspectives from numerous profes-sionals and school partners, and gain a sense of the school climate for continuous school improvement.
The purpose of the school site visits is to build upon the analysis of the information provided by each school and to seek additional insight from school and community interviews and observations. The activities include the following:
- The PAR facilitation team will visit the school and correlate observations with previous data analyses;
- The PAR team will make general observations about the facilities, space allocations, and how the dropout prevention program relates to other programs in the school district or community;
- Observations will focus on administrative practices, classroom management, curriculum materials, teaching strategies, counseling and other support services;
- Individual interviews and panel discussions will be scheduled with selected local school staff, parents, students, and/or other related agency representatives; and
- PAR facilitators will participate in an exit discussion of observations.
Phase 4: Review and Analysis of School Visit Data
The review of local documents coupled with the on-site visit provides information for a detailed narrative report that combines the analyses made from the previously reviewed school-based data, observations about organizational and instructional effectiveness of the school, and general observations gained from the information derived from interviews and focus-group sessions conducted during the visit. The report will include commendations as well as the identification of program areas that appear to be least productive or in conflict with the current research. A list of recommendations will be included to be reviewed and considered by the local action team.
The Review and Analysis of School Visit Data phase allows the PAR team to integrate local information from multiple sources into a coherent report reflecting current conditions, policies, and practices in the school. The tasks include the following:
- The PAR team will combine and analyze the information they recorded during their school visit;
- The PAR team will develop conclusions and recommendations based on the review of the data sent by the LAT, the results of the School Climate Surveys, and the school-visit observations and interviews; and
- The PAR team leader will compile a report for the LAT. The report will include observations about specific strengths and weaknesses and program suggestions and recommendations.
Phase 5: Report and Discussion
The Report and Discussion phase provides a forum for discussing the PAR report’s observations and recommendations. The activities in this phase include the following:
- The PAR team leader will meet with the LAT to present the report and discuss the findings; and
- The LAT and the PAR team leader will discuss processes for identifying strategies to address the needs of the school and the students.
Phase 6: Action Planning
The purpose of the Action Planning phase is to allow the LAT to explore new or revised policies and/or practices and to make decisions to implement new programs. This phase includes the following activities:
- Together LAT members, the PAR team leader, and representatives from other support groups will identify successful program sites where local team members might review model policies and practices;
- The PAR team leader and the LAT will discuss any new or revised program recommendations, set priorities for change, and develop an action plan.
Phase 7: Implementing Action Plan
The Implementing Action Plan phase is the culmination of the PAR process. The LAT serves as the guiding force to ensure the successful implementation of the action plan, the motivating force to maintain enthusiasm for accomplishing the plan, and the monitoring force to ensure that the plan is producing the desired outcomes. Key tasks include:
- The LAT will consult with the PAR team leader to identify appropriate technical assistance and professional development and possible consultants to provide both; and
- The LAT will provide leadership for evaluating program efforts, planning professional development, and continuous program improvement.