Where do you look for your answers? Do you read a book, read a journal article, or attend a conference?…
Although all of these ideas have great merit, maybe the answers are closer to home. In education, we have gotten much better at looking at the performance data of our students. Sometimes it is for all of the wrong reasons, but we are examining performance data like never before. Unfortunately, we have much more data than information and much more information than knowledge. Most certainly, we have much more knowledge than wisdom. So how do we sort through all of the numbers and make sense of how we are doing?
Let’s save the technical analysis discussion for another day. Today, let’s talk about the bright spots in our own schools. First, in your mind, pick one of the tests you give periodically in your school. After the dust settles and you have the results, you have a few choices:
- You can totally ignore the results.
- You can assess student weakness based upon subtest strengths and weaknesses.
- You can create staff development opportunities based on trends you see in school wide data.
One incredibly powerful opportunity yet remains…
Schools can examine areas of particular weakness and see which teachers are defying the numbers. For example, suppose your school is not making expected growth with your highest achieving students. Is it true for all of your teachers? Are the brightest students in each and every classroom underperforming?
Perhaps you have a teacher whose brightest kids are destroying national norms for growth, but because other classrooms’ students performed poorly enough, the bright spot was dimmed. Are we speaking to these teachers? Are we visiting their classrooms to figure out why they may be achieving at such high levels? After all, they are finding success with your own student population. Don’t we often dismiss other school’s results by concluding, “That wouldn’t work in our school.” These teachers have figured out how to make gains in your school.
Or, are we so fearful and threatened that true performance may cause competition and resentment that we quietly pretend all teachers get similar results? My guess is that other schools would be thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the classrooms of your best. Maybe instead of booking that trip for an upcoming conference, we should instead walk next door…