Needs Assessments


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires schools identified in need of comprehensive improvement to conduct needs assessments to identify current areas of challenge and areas where evidence-based improvement strategies need to be applied.

To support high school redesign the needs assessment process must be both more tailored and comprehensive than traditionally has been the case.

Evidence-based high school redesign needs to be built upon a deep understanding of:

  • The educational challenges the school must meet
  • The current and possible post-secondary destinations of the school’s students
  • The existing system which leads to current outcomes
  • The prior reform history at the school,
  • How the perceptions of students, school staff, and the community of current challenges and desired outcomes may or may not align.

Featured Resource

An Overview of Needs Assessments is a 15-minute video provides a high-level overview of the needs assessment process for high school redesign recommended by the Cross State High School Redesign Collaborative.

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Multi-media resources available online and to download.

Using Needs Assessments to Drive School and District Improvement (June 2017), is a tactical guide produced by CCSSO and the Center on School Turnaround describing the core components for developing and administering needs assessments for improvement. The tactical guide and worksheets that will aid in designing and developing needs assessments are available below.

 Click to Download (PDF)        Click to Download Worksheets (PDF)


Understanding and Maximizing Federally Required Needs Assessments (June 2017), a document aimed to assist states in designing and promoting a comprehensive needs assessment process. It includes ideas for consolidating needs assessment activities with the goal of allocating resources more effectively and equitably. Additionally, this resource includes a summary of the federal requirements for needs assessments highlighting provisions where using a needs assessment is implicit.

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Needs Assessments for Low-Performing High Schools this PowerPoint provides guidance for using needs assessments to support high school redesign, including: logic of school improvement, how school redesign differs from school improvement, how ESSA needs assessments need to be different for low-performing high schools, what is the goal of needs assessments in supporting high school redesign, and many more!
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