Wait a minute!  I think we’ve made a mistake!

Have you been focusing on, obsessing over and wracking your brain about the struggling kids in your school?

Well, I think it’s time to stop.


Well, not stop, exactly.  But re-think the habit of obsessing over the struggling kids…

I was working with one of our clients recently and we were pouring over the data, looking at the trends over years and designing a plan to help them further “plug” the holes and get the kids ready to “pass the test”. 

One of the leaders at the school said, “So, we are just tired of waiting to see who passed the test this year…it’s nearly killing us!”

Can you relate?

In that moment, I had a thought. (It’s dangerous mostly, but in this case I think it was okay)

Here was my thought: Why are we spending so much time obsessing over our struggling kids and whether they’ll ‘pass the test’ and focus on what it takes to be benchmark – and do this by looking at the benchmark kids!

So we did.  And here’s where we started…and basically turned this one data analysis session on its head:

  1. We identified the benchmark students on their state test (they used MAP)
  2. We looked at the benchmark MAP kids and identified what scores they had on their screening test (they used DIBELS)
  3. Then we came up with a profile of what numbers on DIBELS that students needed to get in order to be at the proficient level on MAP

So basically we backwards planned for a second – -we looked at what students needed to do on the screener in order to be benchmark on MAP.  Here’s what they found: THERE WAS NOT A HUGE DISCREPANCY BETWEEN THEIR BENCHMARK MAP/SCREENER KIDS AND THOSE NOT HITTING THE MAP BENCHMARK…they were CLOSE!

In fact, the students who did well on MAP only had 11 wcpm higher than the kids who did not hit the proficient level on MAP.

What’s the big deal?

Well, we found that by focusing on what it took to get kids to benchmark by focusing on those kids who are already there, we realized we didn’t have as far to go!  And that was a good thing!

So while we OF COURSE still pour over the struggling student data, we can gain really good perspective on what it takes to be benchmark.

And as Martha Stewart would say: That’s a good thing.