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CEO Arun Ramanathan Shares Insight into Pivot’s Approach to Differentiated Assistance

December 9, 2019

Educate78 recently took a deep dive into 2018-19 SBAC trends. Their analysis found that:

  • A majority of schools saw some gains in ELA and/or Math though
  • 32 schools in Oakland (26% of schools with scores) did not see positive gains in either ELA or Math.

With the majority of schools needing support of some kind, Educate78 reached out to Oakland-based education organizations, including Pivot Learning, to find out how Differentiated Assistance can be provided. Pivot’s CEO, Arun Ramanthan, shared Pivot’s approach to school improvement.

“Evaluating the context of the school, district, or organization on the front end is the most important step to effective differentiated assistance.

The data only tell you so much when you look at student achievement. The question is what’s driving those issues of student achievement?

The most fundamental way to determine that is to look at what’s going on with teaching and learning – what are the underpinnings organizationally around that. High teacher turnover? Teacher absences? New teachers? Where are teachers – and principals and other leaders inside the school – in terms of their development and alignment?

And there are some organizations that face much more basic challenges. I won’t name names, but we work with at least one district that’s faced state takeover. We’re working on very technical issues there. Stuff everybody else has already addressed. Just to be functional. They can’t do basic stuff like complete an IEP on-time. That’s one level of assistance. We need to get them a policies and procedures manual. If you start working on more complex things like classroom walkthroughs when you don’t have the technical stuff done, then you’re wasting your time.

If the systems are more higher functioning already, then you look at higher functioning levers:

  • Curriculum?
  • Schedules?
  • What supports and interventions are you providing to high-need students?
  • What are your prevention and intervention structures?
  • How are you providing teachers with support to take on these issues?

All of these are arranged along a continuum, and must be aligned. You can select a really good curriculum, but if teachers don’t use it, it’s useless. It’s a nuanced understanding within each organization. The context is deeply important.

Lastly, how many things are you trying to do all at once. Larger organizations, more often districts, try to do it all at once. Smaller organizations like charters tend to do it a little better by focusing on only three or four things. Even if you have a weak curriculum but implement it really well you might get better results than if you have a great curriculum and implement it very poorly.”

Read the full article from Educate78.