Module 4: Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) Schools

Evaluating State Accountability Systems Under ESEA

This webpage is part of the Evaluating State Accountability Systems Under ESEA tool, which is designed to help state educational agency (SEA) staff reflect on how the state’s accountability system achieves its intended purposes and build confidence in the state’s accountability system design decisions and implementation activities. Please visit the tool landing page to learn more about this tool and how to navigate these modules.

All states have developed or revised their state’s accountability system in response to requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A state’s accountability system includes multiple indicators, each of which illuminates a different facet of school performance or quality. There are three different types of possible criteria for identifying CSI schools:

  • Based on all indicators, states must identify the lowest-performing 5% of Title I schools for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) (i.e., “lowest-performing 5%” CSI criteria).
  • States can also identify high schools that fail to graduate one third or more of their students as CSI (i.e., “low graduation rate” CSI criteria).
  • States can also identify Title I schools identified for additional targeted support (ATSI) under ESEA Section 111(d)(2)(C)(D) that must meet the statewide exit criteria within a state-determined number of years as CSI (i.e., “ATSI exit status” CSI criteria).

This module focuses primarily on the “lowest-performing 5%” CSI criteria. Because states have minimal flexibility around the methodology for identifying CSI schools based on the “low graduation rate” CSI criteria, this module does not include reflection prompts on the “low graduation rate” CSI criteria. Reflection prompts on the methodologies for identifying CSI schools by the “ATSI exit status” CSI criteria are included in Module 5: Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) Schools.

Results across accountability indicators drive school differentiation and identification in various ways. Module 2A: State’s System of Annual Meaningful Differentiation (AMD) addresses how indicator results drive annual differentiation of schools through summative ratings or through individual indicator results. This module (Module 4) addresses how indicator results drive the identification of the lowest-performing 5% of Title I schools (i.e., CSI schools).

States vary in their approach to identifying the “lowest-performing 5%” of Title I (i.e., CSI) schools. See Table 1 below for more details.

Table 1:State Approaches to Identifying CSI schools

Approach A Approach B Approach C
In many states, the same composite index used to generate a summative rating for AMD is also used to rank and identify the threshold score for Title I schools (below which 5% of Title I schools are identified as CSI schools). These states may skip some components of this module that pertain specifically to the composite index if they have already addressed them in Module 2: State’s System of AMD. Other states use a composite index for CSI identification but not AMD. All components of this module should be applicable for these states. A third category of states does not use a composite index for CSI identification; instead, these states use a set of thresholds (also referred to as “business rules” or “profiles”) across all indicators to identify CSI schools. For example, a threshold rule such as “flag all schools with each accountability indicator ranking in the bottom 10% of Title I schools” might capture 5% of Title I schools. If not, thresholds for individual indicators are adjusted to identify the required number of Title I schools. States using a set of thresholds across all indicators to identify CSI schools can skip claim considerations or evidence reflections that pertain specifically to composite indices, focusing instead on the reflections specific to CSI identification status.

Although certain requirements for identifying CSI schools are defined by statute, there are some areas for state-level discretion with regard to CSI schools. For example, states may choose to identify the lowest-performing 5% of each grade span across the state or include non-Title I schools in CSI identification (as long as the state also identifies at least the lowest-performing 5% of Title I schools and as long as school improvement funds under ESEA Section 1003 are only allocated to schools that meet the statutory definition of CSI). In addition, all states have flexibility in determining the statewide criteria by which schools may exit CSI status as long as those exit criteria ensure continued progress to improve student academic achievement and school success in no more than four years. Variations such as these, as well as the overall approach to CSI identification, should reflect the state’s theory of action and overall intended outcomes. To clarify the state’s theory of action, see Module 1: Theory of Action.

This module includes three sets of self-reflection prompts that are intended to address the following concepts for the CSI schools identification component within the larger state’s accountability system. These three sets of prompts are not intended to be discrete; instead, they are intended to work together to help you answer questions in the next sections of this module.

Table 2. Overview of Module 4: CSI Schools

Section What is it? Why is it important? How should it be used?
Articulate the Rationale Behind the CSI School Identification Methodologies A description of why the CSI identification methodologies are designed the way they are It is important to develop a message that can be used for multiple audiences to describe the “what” and “why” behind CSI identification to communicate effectively about school identification. The rationale asks you to describe the expected policy objective, behavioral intent, and expected results associated with CSI identification. This rationale can be used as a point of comparison for examining the results of school identification and will help you understand where the rationale may be misunderstood.
Consider Stakeholder Perceptions of the Rationale for Identifying CSI Schools A reflection on whether stakeholders understand the rationale behind the CSI identification methodology that can help identify possible areas that may be misinterpreted or misunderstood by the public Determining what assumptions or connections require more clarification can help minimize the public’s misunderstanding and help prioritize resources to support communication efforts. The stakeholder perceptions section asks you to think about your rationale as an outsider. To what degree will stakeholders understand this rationale? How public is its supporting documentation? How might people interpret, use, or misinterpret school identification? This may help you identify what areas may need additional explanation or whether additional communication is necessary.
Assess Confidence in Operations and Results of Identifying CSI Schools Based on your rationale and potential risk, an examination of your level of confidence that CSI design decisions are sound and evidence supports your assumptions Determining your overall confidence in the results and presentation of the CSI methodology can help you determine where to collect evidence, make system revisions, or develop outreach materials. The confidence in operations and results section will help you identify potential evidence that can help confirm CSI identification rationale and design. The rationale can also be used as a point of comparison for design decisions, and the strength of rationale can be used to focus attention on key confidence claims.

To get started, click on the link below.

[Begin Module 4: CSI Schools.]

Module 4: Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) Schools