10 Benefits of Gap Analysis

The educational market is in flux. States are pushing back from both Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and assessments linked to the CCSS. States and publishers are waiting to see:

  • Will funding be directed to charter schools?puzzle-silo-small
  • How many more states will drop out of the CCSS?
  • Will states want summative, formative, or competency-based tests?
  • How will products align to changing state standards?
  • What products should states, districts, and publishers develop to meet current market needs?

Many states are moving to create their own standards. How will these new standards affect the educational market? What steps must states and publishers take?

All the uncertainty in the market calls for gap analyses. A gap analysis identifies how current products are aligned to new standards, which standards still correlate, and what’s missing—gaps where new standards are not well covered.gap-analysis-circle

Publishers need to ensure that their products and assessments readily address the changing needs of states and districts.

States and districts need to know how their new standards align to older standards. Since most states adopted CCSS, new standards usually are analyzed and compared to CCSS.

What actions are taken during a gap analysis?

  • The language of standards is reviewed to identify exactly what is expected of the student.
  • Instructional materials, assessments, and other learning tools are reviewed to determine how strongly they align to the new standards.
  • Care is taken to assess whether the material adequately leads the student to fulfill the expectations set by the standards.
  • The breadth and depth of content is reviewed to see if it matches the scope of the new standards.
  • Once the review is complete, the gaps are identified, and a plan can be developed to revise the materials or assessments to fill those gaps.

Why do states need a gap analysis of new standards relative to CCSS?

A gap analysis helps inform instruction and lesson development. Gap analysis lets states clearly delineate for schools the steps needed to ensure that all students can achieve academically. Teachers also are clear on what strategies and skills they are accountable for teaching and what students need to master and understand within a school year.

However, a gap analysis is not just a simple process of comparing two sets of standards. An effective gap analysis looks deeply at the nuances in the language of the standards, making sure to identify any changes in the intent, goals, and implications. A gap analysis answers the following questions:

  • How are the two sets of standards alike and different?
  • Are the strategies or skills the same?
  • Has there been a shift in the goals and expected outcomes?
  • What steps are necessary to achieve any new goals or outcomes?
  • How do the new standards affect lesson development and assessments?
  • Is there a need for professional development based on the new standards?
  • What are the degrees of fluency in learning and teaching established in the new standards and how and why are they different from previous standards?

A thorough gap analysis defines the new standards according to meaning, content, concepts, skills, and levels of learning. This allows states to establish clear, concrete learning objectives and goals, linking new standards to older ones so that the implementation of new standards is smooth and transparent.

A gap analysis also encourages states and districts to rethink and strategize how students are currently being served versus how students need to be served in the future. A gap analysis offers a framework for states, districts, and publishers to move forward to achieve goals.

Benefits of Gap Analysis

A gap analysis is a powerful tool that organizes information, drives development, and frames learning objectives for all stakeholders.

10 Benefits of Gap Analysis
Publishers 
  1. A gap analysis allows publishers and educators to speak a common language. It facilitates a dialogue about how assessments and curriculum can best meet state and district needs.
  2. It helps identify when new types of assessments are needed, for example to measure students’ critical thinking in authentic performance tasks.
  3. Instructional materials can highlight changes, alerting teachers and districts when they are addressing challenging new standards.
  4. It helps create a plan for success, by identifying the best locations for new formative assessments that monitor progress and allow teachers to identify students who need remediation. Publishers also know when to provide remediation activities.
Districts and States
  1. A gap analysis creates a framework for states and districts to work within so that all stakeholders are on the same page, knowing what content is necessary, what assessments will best measure student achievement, and how to best revise established learning systems.
  2. States and districts can plan new professional development and training to help educators modify instruction, knowing how the new standards link to the old ones.
Teachers
  1. A gap analysis helps to focus and structure new lessons so students gain automaticity in new skills and strategies.
  2. The lessons flowing from the assessment data help students to expand and develop their critical thinking skills.
  3. Teachers can use assessment data to personalize lessons based on where the student is on the learning curve.
  4. A gap analysis also helps teachers to frame parent discussions on new standards.

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