Thursday, January 11, 2007

Data and Interventions

The principals in my district meet monthly for discussions regarding best practice in the schools and use this as an opportunity to have collegial. This meeting constitutes their Professional Learning Community and is void of announcements and bureaucratic interruptions that are not focused on instruction. In addition, the meetings are planned by principals and the majority of the content is delivered by principals. Outsiders like me are occasionally invited when topics are particularly relevant to our work in the district.

This morning was one of those days when I was invited to join the principals and it was inspiring and exciting. Three different principals presented on how they are using data to make change in their schools. Hollene Davis, the principal at Central Elementary School, gave an insightful and thought-provoking presentation on the use of multiple achievement measures to group and re-group students. Hollene walked us through a process she worked through with her teachers. She presented us with a class of students sans names and their scores on CSAP, NWEA MAP, DIBELS, CELA (English Language Acquisition Test) ans an additional comprehension measure. It was a real group of students selected for intensive intervention. The scores were contradictory and mixed. Many students did not seem to be struggling in reading based on several measures. When the teachers evaluated the data they came to the same conclusions we did and they began to ask for more data or to dig into the data a little more. The teachers were compelled by the data to get answers because there was no emotional attachment to the information (there were no names, no student faces, no biases in the data). Teachers were using data and asking for more.

In the past student selection for intervention was entirely based on teacher recommendation and had only loose connection to data. After examining the data sans names the teachers began to realize the compelling nature of multiple measures and to accept responsibility for using these data to change the trajectory of individual students.

The work that is going on at this school under Hollene's leadership will undoubtedly lead to change for the school and for each and every student that attends.

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