When I go to schools, oftentimes the first thing I see as I go through the office for our getting started meetings is a data board. The data board shows who is above benchmark, who is at benchmark, who is below benchmark.
The usual stuff.
One of the MAJOR missing components of the data board is the data on the teacher. (I know, this is not something that most reading really want to think about…but we just must if we want to have impact!)
Half of the battle on the improving and tracking data is the kids’ performance. The other half is the teacher performance.
Let me explain: Just looking at the OUTCOME of what’s going on doesn’t help us much. Well, at least it doesn’t help us FIX much. We have to look at the INPUT. And input matters!
What kind of input do we need to look at closely?
- Classroom management
- Mastery of content
- Enthusiasm/oomph for content
- Discipline management
- Time management
- Lesson planning management
- Level of commitment to team meetings/teammates
…and I could go on.
See – these things MATTER! They matter in the quality of what we teach and they matter in the quality of the results we get. After all, I can (and I have done this!) give three teachers the same materials, the same breakdown of kids, the same types of parents, the same discipline issues, the same amount of time time to teach in the same sized classes and they get completely different results! Why is that?
Because the teacher and the teaching matters!
So…what to do about those students date boards? Don’t scrap ’em, but use them as a tool to get to art of teaching. Use the data from the data board to talk about things like, “What do we have to do to teach _____ skill more cleanly this month?” or “What does this data tell us we’re solid on delivery-wise and what we need to fix up?” or “What is different in my teaching now than in the past when my kids didn’t score as well?’
Data Driven Instruction – Data is collected and used to determine the status of the schools instructional programs. Data can be a powerful tool for supporting instructional growth, but far too often, the main use of Data is to scold educators for not meeting numbers. Data can serve as a starting point to assess where the schools instructional program is and to determine the professional development needed better serve the students.
It is the equivalent of a sports team using only the box score to determine how to prepare for the next game. In reality, coaches and players look at and analyze everything that happens in a game, the plays, the coaches decisions, the individual interactions of the players and develop a plan based on the sum of all they study. In education, the floggings will continue until “test scores” improve is far too often the improvement strategy with the misuse of Data serving as the whip.
I believe strongly in accountability, accountability to provide our students with an education that prepares them to find their place in and contribute to our world. To get the Data on this, we must look at all aspects of how we serve students. Our students, educators, and school communities are our most valuable resource to improve our schools.