Mountains of Data!

Cheryl Hester, Principal, Round Rock ISD
New Year Image


Currently in education, you hear the term “data” used over and over again. If you look in the education world, you will find mountains and mountains of data. But what do you do with all of this data? How will it help your teachers and most importantly your students? Once you have the data, then what?

As a school principal, I have always been surrounded by data. My teachers were familiar with data, but I quickly found they didn’t know what to do with the data they collected.

PLCs with a Focus

We began to figure out what to do with all the data by creating Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) on campus where we met weekly to discuss students, data and instruction. In reviewing our most recent testing data, we noticed we didn’t have a substantial amount of growth in reading or writing. To learn the data team process, we decided to focus on reading and writing data, specifically with attention to learning the system of collecting data and using it to guide instruction. Teachers followed the district curriculum and determined a target goal for their students. Once the target goal was established, teachers collaborated to create a formative assessment and rubric for the high stakes TEKS (Standards) that were being taught in a unit. Students took the formative assessment and teachers determined their needs based on these results. Teachers input this data on a shared spreadsheet. Our PLC team looked at this spreadsheet and that’s when the powerful conversations took off!

Our Strategy

In PLC teams of grade level teachers, interventionists, instructional coaches and administration:

We divided students into these bands of performance: proficient, close, needs Improvement.
Then, we created instructional strategies based on the needs of the students.
In our data room, we made index cards for each student which included their name and their picture.
Teachers placed the students’ cards under the appropriate band based on the formative assessment data.
Lastly, we used this data to set SMART goals for the unit.

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Our Conversations

Teachers openly shared concerns and struggles they had in teaching certain levels of students. The team shared various strategies among one another. Once the instructional strategies were set, teachers set off to work with their students over a period of time. When the unit was complete, teachers gave a summation assessment that closely matched the formative assessment. Our data teams would meet again and compare the results of their students. Teachers moved the student cards that were in the pocket charts. Teachers were highly encouraged when they found students that began in the “Needs Improvement” band and then moved to the “Close” band or “Proficient” band. We looked at each class’s data and if we saw one class performed higher than the others, we would discuss with that teacher what all she/he did to help his/her students succeed. We also looked at the SMART goal that was previously set and determined whether the students met it or not.

Our Results

This year we saw gains in our reading and writing scores and more and more students reading at grade level by the end of the school year.

Our teachers have fully embraced working in PLCs/Data Teams. By beginning with the end in mind, our teachers saw student achievement increase. We look forward to extending this process in other subjects as well and I’m happy to say our teachers are fully aware of how to use data to increase student achievement.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015