Root Cause Analysis

Across the country and throughout all levels of the education system, special education leaders face many challenges. Whether you are a state agency staff member hitting roadblocks with your SSIP implementation or a local director of special education receiving a notice of significant disproportionality, it is essential to understand the root causes of these issues to identify appropriate solutions.

If you are looking for ways to begin conducting root cause analyses, IDC has various resources that can help. For example, the Success Gaps Toolkit can assist states and locals with:

  • Defining success gaps.

Are there issues related to equity, inclusion, and opportunity for student groups struggling academically or behaviorally?

  • Forming a team to address issues.

Who should be at the table to explore or address identified issues? Ideally, teams should include educators, professional support staff, agency leaders, families, and community members.

  • Identifying and examining data.

What data are important to consider when looking at identified issues? These data should be aggregated and disaggregated in simple formats to help guide conversations around identified issues.

  • Completing self-assessments.

How successful is your agency at implementing key elements of the toolkit’s self-assessment rubric? These elements include data-based decision-making, cultural responsiveness, core instructional programming, assessments (universal screening and progress monitoring), and interventions/supports.

  • Developing a plan of action.

How should the root causes and identified issues be addressed? The team should create an action plan and update it quarterly to evaluate progress towards intended outcomes.

The toolkit contains templates for meeting agendas, supporting resources and videos, and presentations for each step of the process.

Facilitating robust conversations and problem-solving sessions is essential for systemic improvement, and the Success Gaps Toolkit can serve as a valuable roadmap to guide state and local teams toward their desired outcomes.

—Tom Munk