We began the “Data Series” blog posts emphasizing the importance of daily independent practice, then explored 5 concrete steps to ensure your lessons are aligned to state standards, and most recently the 3 types of meaningful data that will help increase results in your classroom. In the latest post, the second type of data discussed was daily classroom data: data that a teacher collects during the lesson in one class period. This type often helps determine who is on track for mastering the daily objective and who needs immediate remediation. The game-changing strategy used to collect data daily is where we will end our “Data Series” posts. Educators, allow me to introduce you to Aggressive Monitoring.
“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” ~Carly Fiorina, former executive, president, and chair of Hewlett-Packard Co.
Raise your hand if you use intuition and a gut feeling more often than concrete data to make decisions.
If you didn’t raise your hand and you use data to make all of your decisions, then skim the rest of this post and leave a reply at the bottom with a how-to guide so that we can all become more data-driven humans.
In Monday’s post, I stated the need for educators to engage regularly in meaningful data collection. Two beliefs and practices must be true before we dive into data: 1) Students MUST independently practice the content. 2) The daily content MUST be aligned to grade-level standards and rigor (today’s post!)
For K-12 educators, the spring semester is PACKED with state assessments, holidays, end-of-year field trips, benchmark or interim assessments (i.e., Common Assessments, NWEA, interims, STEP/Fountas & Pinnell/DRA), spring break, unit or module assessments, mid-module assessments, spring concerts or performances, and did I mention daily or final assessments? For many of us, simply reading this list is exhausting — imagine staying organized throughout the process! Due to the sheer amount of “goings-on” in the spring, in my first couple years of teaching, I often found myself planning day-to-day, having stacks on stacks of papers sitting to grade (thus mostly trusting my gut on daily mastery instead of graded evidence), and getting to the state assessment hoping and praying my children would do well.
I have some good news!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share some best practices on MEANINGFUL data collection (what to collect, how to analyze it efficiently, making adjustments based on the data) and giving students feedback so that they own their knowledge and learning.
In my weekly news email from LinkedIn, the January 1st subject read, “Teachers quitting in record numbers.” As someone who desires to be a lifelong educator but recently decided to step out of the classroom, I found myself both relating with the teachers’ perspectives and feeling discouraged with the circumstances.
A quick Google image search of “education quotes” brings up a never ending scroll of serene images and inspirational messages from Maya Angelou to Malcolm X to Nelson Mandela to Ghandi and numerous U.S. Presidents, all conveying a similar idea: Knowledge is power and education is the key to economic success and prosperity. Yet, according to the Wall Street Journal educators are resigning at the highest rate on record, and out of 71 countries that participated in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the United States ranked 24th in science, 24th in reading, and 38th in math (The PISA is conducted every three years and the 2018 data has a tentative release date of December 2019). We say education is the key to success and prosperity, so we would expect education to be a top to priority. However, teachers are quitting and test scores are hardly showing us ahead of the pack. So, where is the disconnect and what do we do about it?
With the start of 2019 comes New Year’s Resolutions, the annual January hashtags (i.e., #NewYearNewMe), and a searching for what will bring about the change that so many seek. For leaders in education, we often find ourselves asking, “What platform, curriculum, or teaching strategy will revolutionize our school’s data or our day-to-day operations?” However, rather than looking externally for ways to revolutionize our schools, let’s desire, as the Schuyler Sisters (in Lin-Manual Miranda’s Broadway Musical Hamilton) sang, “a revelation.” Reflecting on how we are leading with our values and modeling vulnerability for our staff and students often elicits a revelation of what will be the key levers for success.