CELL-IU has been in existence since 1997. It has offered professional development to charter schools, private schools and traditional public schools in every county in the state of Indiana. CELL-IU is a part of the Indiana Resource Network, made possible by the Indiana Department of Education's (IDOE) special education grants.
The mission of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning (CELL-IU) is to work with schools and communities to welcome, include, educate and support all learners. We believe that "Inclusion is the process of improving the ability, opportunity and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society” (World Bank, 2013). This principle has guided our work for over 20 years.
Our school improvement process is comprehensive and collaborative. It is grounded in a comprehensive needs assessment. A “need” is a discrepancy or gap between “what is” and “what should be.” A “needs assessment” is a systematic set of procedures that are used to determine needs, examine their nature and causes, and set priorities for future action. The most important purpose of a needs assessment is not to prove, but to improve. Comprehensive needs assessments provide an opportunity for feedback over a span of time that can be used to improve the quality and effectiveness of services and activities. It is meant to be a functional activity; one in which results can be used in making decisions and earning credibility for stakeholders and others with an interest and need to know. This process is designed to represent meaningful constructions that individual stakeholders form to “make sense” of the current program and services. It is intended to provide the school with a “picture” of the current programs and services.
Data for the needs assessment is gathered through school or state level dashboards and documents (achievement and demographics), classroom observations, a survey, focus groups and interviews. Data analysis is conducted using triangulation, the strategy of using several different kinds of data collection instruments to explore an issue or problem (Borg & Gall, 1989). As particular pieces of information came to light, steps were taken to validate each against at least one other source (for example a second interview) and/or a second method (for example, an observation or review of documents in addition to an interview. No single item of information is given serious consideration for this report unless it was triangulated (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).
The needs assessment results are discussed with a representative leadership team. It is reviewed for accuracy and clarifications. The report is then used to create a comprehensive school improvement plan that includes specific, measurable action items related to the key themes identified in the needs assessment.
For information please contact Sandi Cole.