Once your school has decided to implement the DISCOVER Assessment and complete the necessary training, the steps below will guide you through the process from beginning to end.
At least two months before the desired training date:
Step 1) School Coordinator: Decide who your School Coordinator will be. This person is the official contact we will work with on a regular basis; she or he who will coordinate the DISCOVER-based activities at your site. The rest of the steps below describe this person’s responsibilities.
Step 2) Schedule Training Dates: Contact the DISCOVER office at (520) 622-8106 to schedule dates. We recommend that you make contact as far in advance as possible so that we can be sure to have a trainer available. Dr. Maker’s schedule, in particular, is sometimes booked as much as a year in advance with speaking engagements, training tours, etc. The busiest months overall tend to be May and October. Summer Assessment trainings are popular but, again, try to schedule them early, to work around other training seminars, workshops, and summer programs being offered in Tucson. When choosing dates, pick a time when a classroom of children will be available to participate in the practice Assessment. Most schools schedule trainings during the school year for this reason, although it is possible to use students from school summer programs, if all of the students are approximately the same age. The students will be needed over an approximately 3-hour period. The initial training segment lasts five days, usually Monday through Friday. (Important note: the Observer Candidates must be present for all of the training sessions during those five days, or risk not qualifying for the final certification. Please make sure they are able to accommodate the necessary amount of time.) At a later date, the School Coordinator will schedule the follow-up training sessions (one day for each five Observer Candidates), a process that will determine who will be certified as Observers. During the period between the initial training segment and final certification, the Observer Candidates are called Observer Candidates.
Step 3) Contract for Use of Assessment: Your school will receive a contract, specifying the terms, conditions, and proper usage of the DISCOVER Assessment. The contract must be signed by a qualified school official(s) and returned to us before training begins. In effect, the contract is a license agreement granting use of the Assessment. This procedure exists because the main components of the Assessment (in its current form) were developed under federal grants, resulting in the University of Arizona owning most of the copyrights. Thus we license usage of the Assessment from the University and sub-license to your school. Please read over the clauses carefully to avoid situations that could lead to revocation of usage rights. The contract is important, also, because the procedures it specifies are critical to maintaining the Assessment’s reliability and validity. A copy of the generic contract can be read and downloaded from this website (see “Contracts & Procedures”) but in practice, we usually customize the contract somewhat for each school, taking into consideration the particulars of each location.
Step 4) Order Assessment Materials and Worksheets: The Assessment (and training session) requires use of various materials and worksheets. Your school will receive a list of the items needed. The materials, such as tangrams, toys, art supplies, and so forth, can be ordered from the respective distributors specified on the list. The worksheets used in the Assessment are available through DISCOVER. Information about ordering materials and worksheets is available on this website as well. (See Assessment Materials & Worksheets). Please note that the needed items vary according to the age group being assessed. Once your school has all of the materials and worksheets, these items need to be arranged into “kits”, to be used by the Observers at their respective tables. Each kit should be well organized and self-contained, with everything the Observer needs for each of the three “observed” activities. Contents of the kits should be inventoried before and after each Assessment, to assure items have not been lost or misplaced.
Step 5) Recruit the Observer Candidates: As previously mentioned, some schools use retired teacher volunteers, while others use regular teachers and cover their classes with substitutes. Still others hire individuals from the community, or sometimes mix in high school or college students. Finding individuals who want to be Observers is the best strategy. We recommend training at least 10 Observer Candidates. These individuals do not necessarily need a background in education or special preparations…but we highly recommend that they review the contents of the DISCOVER website so that they have a basic understanding of how the Assessment works before the DISCOVER Trainer arrives. When this is the case, the trainer can spend less time on background and more time mentoring the Observer Candidates in the actual procedures. At some point in the future, we plan to implement an on-line, preparatory training course that will serve as a primer and that will be mandatory for all Trainees.
At least one month before the desired training date:
Step 6) Observer Agreement Form: Have the Observer Candidates review and sign the Observer Agreement Form. This Agreement is a companion to the main contract signed by the school (Step 3 above). It specifies the expectations and limitations associated with being a DISCOVER Observer. Each Observer Candidate must sign an Observer Agreement Form before training can begin. See Assessment Materials & Worksheets to view or download the form.
Step 7) Additional Files and Documents Needed: Your school will receive additional documents and digital files to be used in the training, regular use of the Assessment, or both. Most of this material will be sent by email attachment, or by disk if preferred. The majority of these files need to be printed and photocopied, once received, according to the quantities specified in the accompanying instructions. For example, you will receive a schedule for the five days of training (which sometimes varies from school to school and is fine-tuned between you and the DISCOVER Trainer) and you will receive instructions for the Observers and Assessment Leader, as well as forms used in the debriefing process and other miscellaneous Assessment-related items. All of this material is labeled with a version number because of updates that occur periodically. As time goes on, you will be sent the latest versions, for use in future Assessments.
Step 8) Arrange Facilities and Training Equipment. The venue for the training can vary but there are some general guidelines. If your school has a staff development room with a digital projector and audio equipment available, we will use this room for the large-group portions of the training. DISCOVER uses a PowerPoint presentation throughout the five days to demonstrate Assessment history, components, research and future development. We also use the presentation to play digital video clips and audio examples from past Assessments. If there are no staff development facilities, please reserve a room that can be darkened and that has a screen. During the parts of the training where Observer Candidates practice Assessment exercises and evaluate their own performance, we need a room that has several (preferably round and movable) tables, so that the Observer candidates can be seated together in small groups (two or three per table). Individual tables are needed so that Assessment materials can be spread out, to mimic and actual Assessment. Finally, the practice Assessment with children should occur in a normal classroom or in the school library. The debriefing sessions can occur anywhere but the chairs should be comfortable and there should be a chalk/white board available.
Step 9) Coordinate Details with the Assessment Leader: The Assessment leader (normally the regular teacher) reads directions during Assessments and handles classroom management. During the initial training practice amongst Observer Candidates, the DISCOVER Trainer performs the role of the Assessment leader. However, during the practice Assessment with children, the regular teacher should be used as normal. Meet with The Assessment Leader in advance to make sure he or she has read the instructions in advance, is prepared for the role, and has a general familiarity with the Assessment process. Where possible, we encourage the Assessment Leader to attend the presentation portions of the training. If for some reason a local Assessment leader is not available, an extra DISCOVER staff person can be provided for an additional charge. Note that the DISCOVER Trainer cannot perform the role of Assessment leader during the practice Assessment because of other training responsibilities. Make sure all of the children’s dominant languages are covered. The Assessment leader may need assistance from interpreters. The practice Assessment normally is done either in the 3rd or 4th day of the training.
Step 10) Payment Arrangements: Make necessary arrangements for payment of fees and travel expenses associated with the training. We prefer that all fees be paid at the time the service is rendered (we invoice in advance so that board approvals and other procedures can be accomplished in advance, allowing the Trainer to collect the fees before returning to Tucson).
At least one week before the desired training date:
Step 11) Snacks: Make arrangements for snacks and beverages during the training. The schedule involves regular breaks to keep everyone focused. A common scenario is to divide up the “snack responsibilities” between the Observer candidates.
Step 12) Kits Ready: Make sure all Assessment materials have arrived and that each Observer Candidate has his or her Assessment kit organized and ready to go.
Step 13) Final Arrangements: Make final arrangements for DISCOVER Trainer accommodations and local transportation. (We prefer to make our own travel arrangements between Tucson to your city, to be billed after the training is complete).
During the Initial Training Segment:
Step 14) Meet DISCOVER Trainer in Advance: Meet with the DISCOVER Trainer either the night before, or the morning of, the first day of training (prior to the arrival of Observer Candidates), to discuss details, changes of schedule, etc.
Step 15) Fees: Finalize payment of fees.
Step 16) Oversee Training Details: Oversee operational details throughout the training, addressing any logistical problems that arise.
Step 17) Check with Assessment Leader: Verify again that the Assessment Leader is ready for the practice Assessment and discuss logistics associated with moving the children in and out of the Assessment area between activities. One of the breaks usually is associated with lunch, but the others (especially for young children) are designed around some form of physical activity, to deal with pent-up energy.
Step 18) Attend Training Sessions: Attend all training sessions and encourage attendance by school administrators. In some cases, is an Observer Candidate and in other cases is not. Even if not, the School Coordinator should participate in the entire training to fully understand how the Assessment team will operate once certified.
Step 19) Attendance: Document Observer Candidate attendance at training sessions.
Step 20) Observer Agreement Forms: Make sure the DISCOVER Trainer receives copies of all the Observer Agreement Forms, as well as the peer and self-evaluation forms.
After the Initial Training Segment (School Coordinator):
Step 21) Feedback Letters: Distribute feedback letters to the Observers-in-Training.
Step 22) Practice Assessments: Organize the new Assessment team and schedule the additional practice Assessments. The DISCOVER Trainer, before leaving, will make recommendations on how the Assessments might be best implemented. In some cases individual Observers-in-Training, because of experience or superior ability, are ready to conduct Assessments right away with their own group of students. Others should be paired up with another Observer-in-Training or an experienced Observer (if one is available) during the additional practice sessions. Normally we do not allow the practice Assessments to count as official results, to give the new Observers-in-Training a chance to develop their skills. In some cases, however, it is possible for the DISCOVER Trainer to suggest a team arrangement that will allow official results, depending on how well the Observers-in-Training do during the training sessions. Usually this amounts to the Trainees working in pairs for several Assessments.
Step 23) Follow-Up Training: Schedule a 1-day follow-up training session (involves another live Assessment) for each 5 Observers-in-Training. In the follow-up training, the DISCOVER Trainer watches a team of Observers-in-Training as they complete the entire Assessment process—all activities plus the debriefing. Discuss with the DISCOVER Trainer any additional training or practice (if any) that might be necessary for individual members of the team.
Step 24) Stay in contact with the DISCOVER Trainer in Tucson, to discuss any questions or concerns that arise as the team progresses.