Direct Instruction (DI) programs are designed so that students master small steps daily. A successful DI implementation takes advantage of the small-step design of the DI programs by ensuring that students are taught at their current skill levels continuously. Students who are placed at their current skill levels progress through the programs much faster and with a higher degree of mastery than students who are not placed at their current skill levels. A weekly conference call between the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI) and the school’s leadership team can help ensure that students are placed optimally in the programs and that problems of learning and instruction are solved in a timely manner.
The school’s leadership team and the NIFDI Implementation Manager (IM) and Project Director (PD) analyze performance data on each instructional group before the conference call. Then they discuss the performance of each instructional group, identify and prioritize problems of teaching and learning, and develop specific remedies to address the problems identified. Initially, the NIFDI IM and PD take the lead on the conference calls. The responsibility of the data analysis shifts gradually to the school as the school’s leadership team becomes more familiar with analyzing the data and solving instructional problems.
Every week, the NIFDI IM writes a summary of the call that describes the actions to be taken before the next call and designates who will take the actions. This conference call summary is divided into several sections that address the following:
- the status of actions that were to be taken after the last conference call;
- new problems identified through data analysis and in-class observations;
- accolades describing accomplishments by students; and
- unresolved problems that have been discussed on several conference calls.
The summary is sent to the school’s leadership team and district personnel who support the DI implementation. Each week, the conference call begins with a review of the status of items discussed on the previous week’s call to ensure that all problems are addressed in a timely manner and that all major accomplishments are recognized and celebrated!
IMPORTANT: A DI implementation can develop serious problems without regular, systematic problem-solving sessions even if a school is receiving extensive on-site coaching support from a DI consultant. Depending on a consultants' schedule, classrooms may not receive on-site support for several weeks, during which minor problems may develop into major problems. If a school regularly reviews the state of the implementation with NIFDI and takes systematic action to improve it, student performance has the potential to reach very high levels.