CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Oct. 6, 2009 – While “data-driven decision-making” has been part of the conversation in K-12 education in recent years, many schools and districts are struggling with how to use the data that technology have made available to actually improve student achievement and transform schools. At the 2009 National School Boards Association (NSBA) T+L Conference in Denver this month, school leaders will have the chance to learn more about an innovative process that is being used to prepare educators around the country to have meaningful discussions about data and to proactively use data to improve teaching and learning for children.
Facilitators from TERC, a leading educational research and development organization, will present the preconference workshop, “The Right Data at the Right Time: How to Identify Which Data Really Help Schools Improve Student Achievement,” from 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 27. Workshop presenters Jake Schlumpf and Diana Nunnaley will share insights from a decade of working with learning communities that have adopted the “Using Data” process.
Developed by TERC, with a grant from the National Science Foundation and evaluated by independent researchers, Using Data has documented gains in student achievement in mathematics, science and other content areas and has been successful in narrowing achievement gaps between economic and racial groups, as well as increasing collaboration, data use and instructional improvement. The Using Data process takes teachers beyond the “why” and “what” of data-driven decision-making to the important question of “how.” Teachers learn how to use data to inform their day-to-day practice and to put every student on the path to success.
“Schools and districts around the country that have made the Using Data process a part of their culture are telling us about remarkable changes in both student achievement and overall school environment,” said Nunnaley, Project Director for Using Data. “Superintendents share stories about schools going from ‘needs improvement’ to meeting Adequate Yearly Progress in just one year. Principals are telling us that previously challenging issues, such as student behavior and parental involvement, are being transformed when educators learn how to have meaningful conversations about data.”
Using Data’s unique systemic approach to changing the way educators look at data and work in collaboration with one another was recently highlighted in an Alliance for Excellent Education Policy Brief as a program that can help educators deliver on the promise of using data to improve teaching and learning.
Dennis Yarmouth Regional School District in Cape Cod, Mass., is an example of a district that has harnessed the power of Using Data to make real systemic change. This district, serving 3,500 students in seven schools, is a microcosm of the challenges facing all school districts today. Located in the heart of one of the nation’s most popular tourist regions, Dennis Yarmouth serves a community that is somewhat transient with a wide variety of income levels – nearly 50 percent of all students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. In addition, the district is grappling with educating a growing population of English Language Learners (ELL) – a situation that nearly every district in the country seems to be facing.
Gloria Lemerise, Dennis Yarmouth’s Director of Instruction, said, “Using Data has changed the whole way of communicating in our district. Everyone now asks if we have the data to support what we think. We now have an environment – a culture – that will allow us to take the steps forward to bring all of our students up to the achievement levels we expect.”
A case study on Dennis Yarmouth Regional School District’s experience with the Using Data process is available on the TERC Web site.
Schools that adopt the Using Data approach to building a collaborative culture based on data analysis participate in the Using Data Worksession Series, six customized full-day workshops over a few months or school year. At these workshops, school teams build data literacy skills, learning how to understand and respond to multiple data sources. They also build cultural proficiency and discover ways to expand learning opportunities to diverse students based on data and monitoring. They participate in a data-driven dialogue where they review race, class and equity issues.
For more information about or to register for the NSBA T+L preconference, go to http://www.nsba.org/tl/Precon/. For more information about Using Data, visit http://usingdata.terc.edu/ or contact Jake Schlumpf at 617-873-9648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1965, TERC’s mission is to improve math, science and technology teaching and learning. Each year, TERC’s programs and products reach more than 3.5 million students in the United States and abroad. For more information, see www.terc.edu.
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Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182, email@example.com
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