From Policy to Practice: A Gap Analysis of the Provision of Coordinated Student Services in Maryland
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentAdvanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy
ProgramDoctor of Education
In many school systems, classrooms are filled with students who are performing well, but among these are students who are failing due to an array of barriers to learning. These barriers stem from external factors such as homelessness, abuse, and others, or internal factors such as mental disorders and learning behaviors. Addressing these barriers has been a concern for school systems because they impact students’ ability to perform optimally. Over the years, policy leaders across the nation have attempted to expand student support services to improve student outcomes. In some school systems, they have developed blueprints for the development and implementation of such services. In Maryland, the blueprint calls for coordinated student services teams to deliver services to support students who experience barriers to learning. There is, however, a growing sense that these teams are not performing optimally. This study investigated Maryland’s coordinated student services team members’ perceptions of factors that impede or limit the effectiveness of the provision of student support services. Clark and Estes’ (2008) gap analysis process was used as a framework to investigate perceived performance gaps and to understand root causes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with coordinated student services team members from one school system in Maryland and the coordinated student services team from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). Findings from this study showed that each participant perceived that performance gaps existed in the three domains of knowledge and skills, motivation, and organizational structure or practices. The most salient perceived performance gap was organizational. The second most common perceived performance gap was motivation, and the least perceived was motivation.