Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Diving into PARCC Data

DSAC has frequently heard the complaint that the release of PARCC data felt underwhelming.  As Massachusetts educators, we're used to a large amount of summative assessment data that helps us drill down to specific skills and standards individual students are struggling with.  Teachers often unpack MCAS items for language, criteria for success, and alignment to the MA Frameworks.  But while we can't do an item analysis of PARCC 2015 data, there are several questions PARCC data can answer that grade level, school and district data teams should be asking:

Aggregated Data- The BIG Trends:
Using School and District Profile pages or PE434 reports in Edwin:

  • What % of students scored at each expectations level?
  • How do these results compare to previous years' summative results?  To our interim assessment data?
  • How will we meet the needs of each proficiency level going forward?
Disaggregated Data by Subgroup:
Using PE434 in Edwin:
  • What achievement gaps between subgroups are evident?
  • How do achievement gaps compare with previous summative assessments? Are gaps widening or narrowing?
  • What might account for gap trends?  What will we do to narrow achievement gaps?
Sub-Claim Content Data: 
Using PE637 PARCC Student Roster report in Edwin:
  • Which sub-claims were areas of strength?  Areas of need?
  • What practices might account for these successes?  How can we strengthen and spread the use of these practices?
  • Which sub-claims do we need to target?  What supports can we strengthen to meet areas of need?
  • How do the sub-claims map onto our existing curriculum?  Which areas should we emphasize more/less?
  • How are we using the standards of mathematical practice in math instruction?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

PARCC Reports Now Available On Edwin

With the release of PARCC data this week, educators can find PARCC and MCAS data available in Edwin at the student, subgroup, school and district level in the following reports:

  • Student Profile Report PR600
  • PARCC Student Roster PE637
  • PARCC results by subgroup PE334, PE434
  • PARCC data added to PE613 and PE600

Friday, October 30, 2015

Results of the 2015 NAEP Math and Reading Assessment

Overall, in 2015 U.S. fourth and eighth grade students scored 1-2 points below 2013 reading and math scores.  Massachusetts average scores saw no change from 2013-2015 reading and math scores.  Compared with the other 49 states, Massachusetts fourth grade students came in first for reading and math, and first for eighth grade reading and math, scoring well above the national average.

To read the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's related press release, visit: http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=21276

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is a reading and math assessment given every two years to provide a national measure of how students are performing across the U.S. and across individual states.  NAEP is currently administered as a pencil and paper test in math, reading, civics, economics, science, writing, the arts, technology and engineering literacy, U.S. history, and geography.  A representative sample of schools is selected from each state (about 100 schools and 2,500 students per state).  Students are then randomly selected as NAEP test-takers within the identified schools.  For more information on NAEP visit: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"What to Look For" Observation Guides

Looking to improve your observation skills, particularly in a content area that you are less familiar with?  Want to gather higher quality qualitative data about student progress and classroom instruction?  The "What to Look For" Observation Guides, available on the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, describe what observers should expect to see in classrooms at each grade level in math and science.  The guides are aligned with state learning standards and include the knowledge and skills students should be learning and demonstrating.

A similar guide is also available for observing inclusive practices: http://www.doe.mass.edu/edeval/guidebook/observations.html

Guides for observing English Language Arts practices are expected to be released in December 2015.

"What to Look For" guides for observing ELL practices are currently in development.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What classroom reports are available on Edwin?

Edwin offers several classroom level reports that can support teachers in reviewing start-of-school year and end-of-school year information, as well as information on teacher performance.  Below is a breakdown of available classroom level reports:

  • Classroom Standards Summary (PE506):  MCAS % correct by standards and question type for classroom(s).
  • Classroom MCAS Results (CU522): MCAS achievement distribution, median SGP and % correct by standards and question type at the classroom level.  Optional filters include student subgroups and EWIS risk levels.
  • MCAS Classroom Item Analysis Roster (IT516):  MCAS item analysis roster for the classroom(s).  It includes average raw scores, median scaled score and median SGP for the classroom and can be run for multiple teachers and classrooms.
  • Student MCAS Item Analysis (IT523): MCAS item analysis roster for the classroom.  It runs for one classroom at a time, but can include multiple grade-level tests in a multi-grade classroom.  Optional filters include student subgroups and EWIS risk levels.
  • Achievement and Growth by Teacher (PE520):  Provides a 1 year summary of student MCAS achievement distribution, median SGP and growth distribution.  This report runs for a specific MCAS grade-level test, and can be run for multiple teachers and classrooms.
  • Course Three Year Performance Trend (PE521):  3 year summary by course (not classroom) of student MCAS achievement distribution, median SGP, and % correct by standards and question type.  This report can also display AP or SAT results.  It runs for one teacher at a time, but can include multiple MCAS grade-level tests.  Optional filters include student subgroups and EWIS risk levels.

Monday, September 28, 2015

State Release Summaries: MCAS Results and PARCC Preliminary Results

Over the past few weeks, MA DESE has released several data reports, including MCAS results and preliminary PARCC results.  In 2015, 46% of grade 3-8 students participated in the MCAS assessment, while 54% participated in PARCC.  23% of grade 9 and/or 11 students took the PARCC exam.  Below is a summary of those results:

MCAS Results Highlights:

  • 88% of 2015 10th graders met the state's minimum MCAS requirements for high school graduation on their first attempt (Needs Improvement or higher in ELA, math and science).
  • 91% of 2015 10th graders scored proficient or advanced on the MCAS ELA assessment.
  • 2015 MCAS results show that the state is continuing to narrow the achievement gap between white and African American students, and white and Hispanic/Latino students in ELA and math.
  • Statewide performance improved on the ELA MCAS in all grades in 2015.
  • Statewide performance improved on the math MCAS in grades 3-9 in 2015; the percentage of students performing at the proficient or advanced level in grade 10 showed no change from 2014.
  • Statewide performance on the 2015 science MCAS varied by grade level.

To learn more about statewide 2015 MCAS and PARCC trends, read the Commissioner's weekly update September 25, 2015 and September 21st press release, both available on MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Data in Action Videos

The first on-line videos to support educator use of the ESE's suite of data reporting tools: Edwin Analytics, School and District Profiles, and DART will soon be available on School and District Profiles. Look for the 'Learn More' icon linked from the upper right corner of the following Profiles reports as soon as this Friday:
  • Attrition Statewide Report
  • District Attrition Report Page
  • School Attrition Report Page
  • Accountability Statewide Report
  • District Accountability page
  • School Accountability page
  • District Report Card Overview
  • School Report Card Overview
  • Educator Evaluation Performance Statewide Report
  • District level Educator Evaluation page
  • School level Educator Evaluation Page
DIA Learn More logo
Please remember that if the icon is not visible in the upper right corner of the report, no video is available. Following the release to Profiles, the 'Learn More' icon should start appearing in Edwin Analytics in the next month.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information. To submit questions, please use the EOE IT web form.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

MA Assessment Data Release Updates

The public release of MCAS and growth data will occur Friday, September 25th. Additional data, including PARCC results, will be released by the following schedule:

  • Mid-Fall: 
    • Preliminary PARCC results posted electronically for superintendents and principals
  • Late Fall:
    • Preliminary 2015 accountability data for all schools, including accountability and assistance levels, 2012-2015 PPI data posted electronically for superintendents and principals
    • Official PARCC results posted electronically for superintendents and principals
    • Official embargoed 2015 accountability data, including accountability and assistance levels, 2012-2015 PPI data, commendation designations, provided electronically to superintendents and principals
    • Official district and school PARCC results released to the public
To learn more about MA DESE's data release schedule, visit: http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2015ReleaseSchedule.pdf

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What's new in Edwin?

Edwin is always being updated with new reports, new features, or new data.  Here's what's new this month...

  • Current (SY 2015-16) EWIS data is now available in the following Early Warning Indicator reports: EW301, EW302, and EW601
  • SIMS cube updated with end of year (June 2015) data
  • New field for "economically disadvantaged" added to Finance cube

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

EWIS Training Opportunity

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is providing a free, online training for the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS), as part of a series of webinars offered by the College and Career Readiness team.  This first webinar, held next week, will provide a basic introduction to EWIS and Post-Secondary reports in Edwin.

EWIS reports training will be offered September 15th, 3-4pm.

Registration can be found at the following link: http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=8169

Please direct questions to Nyah Fuentes: 781-338-3593

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Free Online PD Offered for Level 3 Schools

The Massachusetts Focus Academy (MFA) is offering free, online, graduate credit (3 credits) courses to Level 3 educators this semester.  Applications will be accepted from teams (2-6 educators) from Level 3 districts and schools.

Registration closes: September 23, 2015
Courses begin the week of October 5th

Courses offered this semester include:

  • Creating and Sustaining Positive School-Wide Learning Environments
  • Assessment of Students with Disabilities who are ELLs
  • Collaborative Co-teaching: Meeting the Needs of All Students
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Partnering with Families of Middle and High School Students with Disabilities
  • Partnering with Families of Preschool and Elementary School Students with Disabilities
  • Universal Design for Learning: Student Affect and Engagement
  • Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability
  • Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability in Mathematics Instruction

Application information, as well as course descriptions and syllabi, can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/apa/sss/mtss/ta/mfa/default.html

Please email any questions to mtss@doe.mass.edu

MFA is part of a statewide professional development system designed to improve the outcomes for students while increasing the retention and knowledge of highly skilled educators.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What data should teachers review in the first few weeks of school?

As rosters are finalized, final classroom preparations are made, and schools open, there is a wealth of data available to teachers to support them in meeting the needs of their students on day one. Rather than combing through all of the data readily available, here are some suggestions for where teachers might focus their review in the first few weeks of school:

Who are your new students?  What are their needs?

  • To unpack these questions, teachers should be familiar with the services students are participating in- 504 plan or IEP, ELL support, speech and language services, guidance, etc.  
  • EWIS- EWIS, or early warning indicator system, data provides a "risk factor" indication for each student, based on their attendance, mobility, ELL status, prior MCAS scores, suspensions, and other factors.  Understanding students' risk factors can support teachers in identifying which students may need additional support, and for middle and high school teachers, which students are at-risk for dropping out.
  • ACCESS scores- frequently the ELL instructors are familiar with students' ACCESS scores, but the general classroom teacher is not.  However, understanding which ACCESS levels your students fall under for listening, speaking, writing, etc. can help you determine your homogenous groups and determine what further supports your students need in building their language fluency.  
  • End of year benchmarks- while you get to know your students and begin assessing their current reading levels, take a look at DIBELS, interim assessment, DRA or other end of year benchmarks.  Scores from last May-June can support early development of homogenous groups while you continue to assess your students, as well as tell you where the students left off at the end of last year!

Monday, August 17, 2015

MCAS Update- Preliminary Data Has Been Released!

MCAS Update

The second preliminary release of MCAS and Growth data reached Edwin Analytics on Thursday, August 13th. Data releases are announced on the EA Home tab when they occur so please remember to check there for confirmation before running reports. As stated on the Home tab, the data is still embargoed until the September release when state aggregations and CD status will be made available.
Classroom reports with End of Year (EOY) results rely on accurate EPIMS and SCS submissions from the districts. EOY EPIMS and SCS collections are scheduled to close in August and then go through a data quality validation process before they reach Edwin Analytics later in the fall. In the meantime, classroom reports can be run using:
  • SIF 2015 submissions up until the time that SIF is rolled over to the 2016 school year. Please note, however, that if your SIS has already exited your 2015 students, you will have no 2015 EOY classroom data from SIF.
  • October 2014-15 EPIMS and SCS submissions. The October submission is an option on some of the classroom reports including IT516, GR501, PE506, and PE520.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New to Edwin

If your students took the MCAS last year, you may have already seen your preliminary data available in Edwin.  But there are some new support features of Edwin that are coming soon, later this summer

Coming Soon: Data In Action Videos

The Department of Ellementary and Secondary Education (ESE) has developed short, on-line videos to support educator use of the agency's suite of data reporting tools: Edwin Analytics, School and District Profiles, and DART. These tutorials provide an overview of specific data reports, how they can be effectively used, and where to go for additional information. Look for the 'Learn More' icons embedded in the data reporting tools. They are not yet available but are due out this summer.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Edwin Reports

Available on District & School – Public tab > Enrollment & Indicators

·         ELL Longitudinal Outcomes (EL324),
·         Disciplinary Removal Analysis (SD320),
·         Students with IEPs Comparison (SP323)

Available on District & School – Public tab > Postsecondary Readiness & Success

·         CVTE Graduate Pathway Summary: MA Public Postsecondary (CR321)

If you have technical questions about the reports as you are working with them, there is a technical support desk that is very helpful 781-338-6820.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Top Edwin Reports

Ever wonder which Edwin reports may be most applicable to your role?  Here are my top recommended Edwin reports for district and school leaders, and teachers.

District Administrators
School Administrators
PE 305/405 MCAS Achievement distribution by year
PE 405 MCAS achievement distribution by year
IT 401 MCAS test item analysis summary
PE 303/403 MCAS results by achievement level: school, district, state comparison
CU 406 MCAS results by standards
CU 406 MCAS results by standards
PE 304/404 MCAS results by subgroup
PE 404 MCAS results by subgroup
EW 601 EWIS student list
EL 327 Access for ELLs summary
IT 401 MCAS test item analysis summary
EL 627 ACCESS for ELLS student roster
EW 301 EWIS district view
EW 601 EWIS student list

CR 301 Postsecondary outcomes for HS graduates (includes graduation data as well)
EL 627 ACCESS for ELLS student roster

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Important Changes to the PARCC Test Design

On May 20, 2015 the PARCC governing board (made up of state education commissioners and superintendents) voted to:

·         Reduce the testing time for students by about 90 minutes overall (60 minutes in mathematics; 30 minutes in English language arts) and create more uniformity of test unit times.
·         Consolidate the two windows in English language arts/literacy (including reading and writing) and mathematics into one.
o   The single testing window will simplify administration of the test for states and schools that experienced challenges with scheduling two testing windows.
o   The testing window will be up to 30 days and will extend from roughly the 75% mark to the 90% mark of the school year. Most schools will complete testing in one to two weeks during that window.
·         Reduce the number of test units by two for most students.

The press release and a more detailed explainer are online at: http://parcconline.org/parcc-states-vote-shorten-test-time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

ACCESS Data Reports

Check out the WIDA ACCESS Interpretative Guide: https://www.wida.us/assessment/ACCESS/ScoreReports/ACCESS_Interpretive_Guide11.pdf

The guide provides helpful information for score interpretation of ELL ACCESS scores, as well as an outline of which reports are most useful to specific audiences.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Student Suspension and Reporting Data Policy

How does data fit in with student discipline, under MA DESE laws and regulations?  You can review the data and reporting requirements related to student suspension and expulsion in the Advisory on Student Discipline under Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, found here:

  1. Data Collection and Reporting (603 CMR 53.14)

    In addition to collecting and annually reporting suspension and expulsion data, principals are required to have systems in place to periodically review the data. The purpose of the review is three-fold: 1) to assess what the data reveal about the extent of the use of suspension in their schools; 2) to determine the impact that disciplinary practices have on the removal and exclusion of selected student sub-groups; and 3) to consider and implement adjustments to practice as necessary and appropriate to address over-reliance on suspensions and expulsions and the impact on one or more student sub-groups compared with others.
    The Department will publish student discipline data by district and schools in the fall of each year. The Department also will publicly identify districts and schools whose data reveal over-reliance on long-term suspension and expulsion, and will assist such schools and districts by identifying program models that reduce reliance on suspension and expulsion as a response to misconduct.
    Further, the Department will identify districts and schools whose data reflect significant disparities in the rate of suspension and expulsion by race and ethnicity, or disability. The identified districts and schools must develop and implement a plan, approved by the Department, to address such disparities. This requirement is consistent with a joint U.S. Department of Education/Department of Justice January 8, 2014 Dear Colleague letter on the topic of Non-Discriminatory Administration of School Discipline. The letter stated in part:
    The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), conducted by OCR, has demonstrated that students of certain racial or ethnic groups tend to be disciplined more than their peers. For example, national data show that African-American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as their white peers without disabilities to be expelled or suspended. Although African-American students represent 15% of students in the CRDC, they make up 35% of students suspended once, 44% of those suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled. Further, over 50% of students who were involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement are Hispanic or African-American.
    The Departments recognize that disparities in student discipline rates in a school or district may be caused by a range of factors. However, research suggests that the substantial racial disparities of the kind reflected in the CRDC data are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color… .
    The purpose of the Dear Colleague letter is to provide guidance to districts so as "to identify, avoid, and remedy discriminatory discipline" and to assist schools in providing equal educational opportunities. The Dear Colleague letter, which is part of a School Climate Discipline Guidance package. We recommend that school officials review the federal guidance as well as the other resources on the Department's website as you implement the new discipline law.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lessons Learned from Turnaround Schools & Districts

While you may not be a level 4 or 5 school or district, research on what worked well in turnaround schools sheds light on accelerating student achievement gains.  Check out what MA DESE has learned about school turnaround practices in their annual reports and Turnaround Practices in Achievement Gains Schools Video Series, found here:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Post-secondary Attendance and Persistence

As seniors receive acceptance letters from colleges and universities, high schools across the state are also gaining valuable data, including: rates of students applying to college, and rates of students gaining acceptance and enrolling in two and four year postsecondary institutions.

Many Greater Boston DSAC partnering districts and schools are also using this time to analyze high school data, evaluating how well their programs are preparing students for entrance into postsecondary education.  In June 2014 MA DESE partnered with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University to better understand academic preparation, postsecondary educational attainment, and college-going outcomes of students.  The Strategic Data Project's College Going Diagnostic of MA DESE shared the following key findings:

  • Low income students are less likely to persist in college than their non-low income peers.  Low income students are also more likely to enroll in two year colleges.
  • Less than half of ninth grade MA students completed high school within five years, entered college and persisted through their second year of college
  • More than 20% of high school graduates planning to attend college fail to enroll at any post-secondary institution.
  • Students attending four year colleges are more likely to persist to the second year that students attending two year institutions.
  • Students who enroll in college immediately following high school graduation are more likely to persist than those who delay enrollment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What is a Student Learning Challenge?

A student learning challenge is a statement of student needs, identified through data analysis, that the group is committed to addressing instructionally.

When developing a student learning challenge, review the patterns and trends in student assessment data, identifying the areas of strength and need for groups of students.

Examples of student learning challenge statements:

  • As evidenced by the first grade early literacy assessments, students with disabilities are scoring 20% below their peers in phonological awareness.
  • The 8th grade state assessment and end of unit math assessments show that approximately 32% of ELLs are scoring proficient in Measurement & Data standards, or approximately 67% of ELLs are below proficient.
  • Graduation rates from 2011-2014 show that on average 20% fewer Hispanic/Latino students graduate from high school in four years, compared with their white peers.

Sources: REL & NE Islands and MA DESE Workshop on Practitioner Data Use for Special Educators

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How are we looking at the same data differently?

Research by Nelson, Slavit, Deuel, Kennedy and Mason reviewed how teacher teams used student assessment data to improve classroom instruction.  Their findings highlight a conceptual difference in the way individual teachers use and interpret data, based upon the approach taken when looking at student work.

  • The Proving Stance: Who "got it" and who didn't?  Teachers taking a "proving" approach to analyzing assessments look more quantitatively at the data. They want to know percentages, facts and figures, and overall scores.  Their takeaways from the data are more general and often summative- did students master this concept or not?  The researchers suggest that often with this approach there is little influence on classroom instruction.  Rather, teachers identify class proficiency, then move on to the next target to be taught and assessed.
  • The Improving Stance: How are students thinking about the assessed concept?  Teachers taking an "improving" approach to analyzing assessments may look more qualitatively at the data.  Teachers identify students conceptions and misconceptions about a topic, and may use multiple forms of data to better understand students' thinking. Teachers have conversations about expectations for student learning and what that translates to in student work.

In observing teams of teachers analyzing student data, the researchers found that those taking an "improving stance" were more likely to have conversations about how the data would inform their practice.  These teams discussed instructional practices, expectations, and continued to ask questions of each other throughout the data cycle.

Source: Nelson, Tamara Holmlund, et al. "A Three-Dimensional Theoretical Framework for Understanding Teachers’ Use of Classroom-Based Data in Collaborative Inquiry Groups."

Friday, April 17, 2015

More Tips for Creating Data Displays

Clearly label the chart

  • Clearly title the data display with the data it represents (e.g. assessment, standard, skill, etc.)
  • Clearly label the axes and key
  • Provide the dates of assessment, content areas, grades tested, number of students
Make the chart easy to read
  • Make the chart SIMPLE!
  • Minimize distracting elements
  • Consider simple fonts and colors
  • Provide data point values where helpful
  • Consistent scales and formats when comparing data

From the REL Northeast & Islands and MA DESE Practitioner Use of Special Education Data Workshop;
Boudett, City & Murnane (2013) Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide ot Using Assessment Data to Improve Teaching and Learning

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Data Use for Special Education Teachers, Adminstrators

This week I attended the Practitioner Data Use Workshop for Special Educators, presented by REL Northeast & Islands and MA DESE.  The workshop led educators through the cycle of inquiry, developing a focus question, analyzing data, developing actions from the data, and progress monitoring, as well as a root cause analysis for special education data.  As this was a workshop specifically for special education data, school-based teams explored data in the following areas:

Identification and Placement Decision Data:

  • Psycho-educational assessments
  • Initial screening assessments
  • Readiness and transition planning
Instructional Data:
  • Diagnostic-prescriptive teaching
  • Ongoing progress monitoring
  • Modifications, accommodations and differentiation
School and District Improvement Data:
  • Multi-tiered systems of support implementation data (e.g. Response to intervention, behavioral interventions and supports)
Several school teams shared a common struggle with collecting special education data- as most students remain in the general education classroom, and are primarily assessed and monitored by the classroom teacher, special education teachers often don't have access to formative and summative assessments.  We know that classroom teachers regularly assess students in a variety of ways, through exit tickets, observations, writing samples, quizzes and worksheets, but too frequently these assessments are graded and sent home before the special education teacher can view it.  Special educators must then rely on developing and administering their own assessments to build student portfolios and track student progress toward goals.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Literacy and Math Coaching Courses to Support SEI Instruction

The Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement (OELAAA) is recommending the following courses to support literacy, math and ELL coaches.  The courses target how to support PK-12 teachers in sheltered English immersion strategies in literacy and math content.


Literacy Coaching
Integrating SEI into Literacy Coaching

Course Description
Integrating SEI into Literacy Coaching explores the teaching-learning process for students, teachers, and instructional coaches from critical sociocultural perspectives. The course prepares literacy instructional coaches, including ELL coaches, to use principles of learning to support teachers in sheltering instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) in Pre-K-12 classrooms. Coaches learn to recognize, use, and promote the type of sheltering of instruction that maximizes opportunities for engagement, differentiation, and achievement for culturally, linguistically, economically, and learning diverse students.

Mathematics Coaching
Supporting Teachers of English Language Learners in the Math Classroom

Announcing an opportunity to nominate a team of two to three Math Coaches from your district to participate in this Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pilot course. This coaching course, to eventually be rolled out statewide, is based on the Six Standards of Effective Pedagogy Coaching Framework, and is part of the state’s Extending the Learning phase of RETELL. Designed specifically for Mathematics coaches, it focuses on the roles of the coach in supporting, expanding, and sustaining effective mathematical practices in diverse Math classrooms with ELLs, and supporting long-term integration of sheltered mathematics into core instruction. 
This course, along with the abbreviated Short Bridge course jointly offer a customized route to SEI Endorsement for instructional coaches, and 3 Graduate Credits/Professional Development Points.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Putting the "Team" in Your Data Team

When building data teams the focus is primary on the "what"- What data will we look at?  What day and time will we meet?  What findings will we share with staff?  But it's equally important to focus on the "how"- How will we go about doing this work together?  How will we build a collaborative team?

Harvard Graduate School of Education Senior Lecturer Katherine Boles, and Director of The Power of Teacher Learning, Vivian Troen have focused much of their writing and research on building teacher leadership teams.  They have found that while the roles exist for school-based teacher teams (whether grade level, content area, ILT, data, or other teams), the teaching profession has for so long been a culture of autonomy and collaboration is not intuitive.

A culture and structure need to be in place to support collegiality and collaboration.  In building school-based teams, Boles and Troen recommend specific training in working as a team, setting norms and agendas for teamwork, and setting goals for improvements in instruction to support student learning.  They also recommend establishing a climate that supports collegiality, and building personal accountability for student success.

Additional Resources:
7 Norms for Collaboration Toolkit
District Data Team Toolkit Module 1
8 Ways to Build Collaborative Teams, Harvard Business Review
Rating Your Teacher Team, Boles & Troen
The Power of Teacher Teams, Boles & Troen

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Closer Look at Your School Data Team Data

With a wealth of data now available to districts, schools, and classrooms, a common question we hear is- What data should our school's data team look at?  If we consider the purpose of a data team as informing classroom instruction and improving student performance, then the information data teams review should fit within this context.

  • Primarily, data teams should focus on formative assessments which provide real-time, mid-year or mid-unit input on student learning.  These may be in the form of exit tickets, quizzes or interim assessments, or performance and writing tasks with a rubric.  This type of data is most valuable to data teams as it provides a midway check-in on student progress with time to modify instruction to support student mastery.

  • After formative assessment, data teams should review summative assessment.  State tests, end of unit assessments, and other standardized summative assessments provide a fairly reliable measure of student mastery of content standards.  Summative assessment provides a view of how well students learned content within a given unit or academic course.  Summative assessments also provide comparative data, as they can be used to compare the performance of cohorts of students year-to-year, and in some cases, measure student growth.  Summative assessments are also helpful in identifying bigger picture trends in student learning, such as proficiency gaps between subgroups, or gaps in student learning over time.

  • However, as data teams dive into formative and summative assessments, additional questions may arise that can not be answered from student assessment data or student work.  Here, data teams should look to the additional data available to them, particularly when conducting a deeper analysis of longitudinal trends.  This data may include demographic and enrollment information, school climate or student surveys, or teacher preparation or evaluation data.

Steve Ventura from Advanced Collaborative Solutions reminds us that, "data teams are not about student test scores.  Data teams are about cause and effect."  In this vein the work of data teams is not a focus on analyzing data, but about using the data to impact a positive change in student learning and success through informed classroom instruction.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Coding for Kids

Had you asked me when I began my career in education 12 years ago, if coding would be the new learning trend- I'm sure I would have laughed.  Coding the new cool?  But with learning moving to an online forum, and gaming a popular pastime, it makes sense that kids want to know how it all works.  And coding not only teaches students computer programming, a currently on-demand job, but also builds skills in logic, problem solving, persistence, and communication.

Scratch is not a new resource for supporting children in coding (launched in 2007 by MIT), but it is quickly gaining popularity with millions of users in 150 countries.  And now there's a new coding community for Scratch users, ScratchEd, and monthly free Scratch meet-ups in Cambridge, to share resources and "talk code."

Additional coding resources:
7 Apps for Teaching Students Coding Skills
Hour of Code
Coding for Kids Revisited
Cool Tools to Help Kids Learn to Code

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Creating Your Classroom Data Wall

Why Create a Data Wall
That phrase, "making student learning visible," is quickly becoming a cliche as it is so often used, and overused.  But this phrase certainly applies to data walls.  Data walls can make growth and learning visible to students, and particularly our underperforming students, and support students in setting goals and monitoring their own individual progress.

Selecting your Data Wall Subject
If you are new to data walls, take the advice of Scholastic writer Rhonda Stewart and "keep it simple."  Pick an area that you want your students to grow in and see their growth.   Reading levels, homework completion, and math fact memorization are areas that many teachers begin with.  But make sure that you select a topic that is relevant to your students, relevant to what they are currently learning, and in which you can track growth.

The Do's and Don't's of Data Walls

Be able to show student growth over time. In the picture below, the teacher has created a very visible student data wall using state assessment data in math and ELA.  While this summative assessment data is readily available, it isn't meaningful for students, nor does it provide opportunities for reflecting student growth.  Student take the assessment at the end of the year, and do not have an opportunity to see their results until months later.

Student learning levels should be identifiable to students. In the data wall pictured below, the teacher plotted student reading levels, with a clearly identified class goal.  However, student initials, numbers or other identifiers are not shown.  A data wall should have a means for students to identify and track their own individual progress.  To ensure some anonymity and protect underperforming students from feel uncomfortable with their learning level, many teachers randomly assign students numbers (and communicate those numbers to students).  Others have students decorate a symbol to use for themselves, such as a rocket ship or animal, that they can then move up the chart as their learning progresses.

Make the learning goal/objective visible.  Clearly label the data wall with the data it represents.  What is the learning goal or objective?  What are the expectations for student learning?  In the two pictures below, "how was it" does not communicate student learning to anyone coming into the classroom.  However, "I can make a letter to go with a sound" shows a clearly defined learning goal for students, and in student-friendly terms that make the objective accessible to both students and classroom visitors.

Keep it positive.  Don't focus on how far away your class is from reaching a standard- focus on the positive.  How much growth have students made?  How many students have met or are approaching the goal?

Additional Resources on Data Walls


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Student Data Principles: Guiding Student Data Quality and Data Privacy

On Tueday, Student Data Principles were released to guide schools and districts in how to effectively use student data and protect student privacy.  A collaboration of more than 30 groups from across the country through the Data Quality Campaign and Consortium for School Networking, the Principles address the growing concerns from parents, teachers, school administrators and state education chiefs regarding the need for both data quality and data privacy.  Their 10 Principles are intended to be used as a guide for anyone, from researcher to educator, who uses student data.  The Principles include:

1. Student data should be used to further and support student learning and success.

2. Student data are most powerful when used for continuous improvement and personalizing student learning.

3. Student data should be used as a tool for informing, engaging,  and empowering students, families, teachers and school systems.

To see all 10 Principles, visit their website: http://studentdataprinciples.org/the-principles/

Upcoming free EdWeek Webinars:
Evolving Role of the School Leader, March 19, 2-3pm ET
Google Aps for Education, March 16, 2-3pm ET
Closing the Achievement Gap for ELLs through Technology and Proven Language Pedagogy, March 17, 2-3pm ET

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teaching Data Analysis to Support College and Career Readiness

Last week I attended the High School Math Network meeting at Malden High School.  Panelists from Bunker Hill Community College, UMass Boston and Freedom House discussed with district leaders and high school math educators from the Greater Boston area the skill gaps they see in students as they transition from high school to college level math, and how high schools can better support students in preparing for college and careers in mathematics.

Representatives from both Bunker Hill and UMass Boston highlighted the need to support students in data analysis and statistics, emphasizing this area of advanced math over Calculus in preparing students for math careers.  Panelists shared that students need increased access to statistics, to analyzing large sets of data, and to understand how to present data to an audience in a coherent way.

Additional Resources:
Quantway and Statway programs from the Carnegie Foundation

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaching Students Data Skills (continued)

Looking for resources or cool projects to teach students data literacy?  Wondering how to make data engaging and relevant to elementary/middle/high school students?  Below is a collection of websites that provide kid-friendly data or advice on supporting students with data analysis: