How three districts are tracking student data

Here’s how FCPS is using student data:

  • When the district began using the Electronic Curriculum Assessment Resource Tool (eCART) system, which gives teachers and school administrators access to web-based, district-approved curriculum, assessments, tools, and resources, it gained the ability to gather and use formative data as well. That increased the data available to teachers, who analyze that data and use it to positively impact instruction.
  • FCPS created a learning environment for students, teachers, and parents that fosters communication, collaboration, sharing of instructional resources, and both independent and group learning, and then enhanced that learning environment by integrating tools that support the instructional cycle.
  • The district’s next step is to “put that data into the hands of students, to give them the ability to take ownership of their learning and start to manage their own education,” Davis said.

FCPS invested in technology in part to “build up a data culture,” said Aaron Sterling, an FCPS technology specialist.

Establishing a close working relationship with the district curriculum department is important when it comes to collecting, interpreting, and leveraging student data, said Robert Calvert, chief information officer for Houston’s Fort Bend Independent School District.

In 2006, Fort Bend took a hard look at classroom instruction and placed a focus on improving student grades, which is where data-driven decision-making came into play. The district implemented the Leadership and Learning Center’s Data Teams methodology to focus on critical needs of the district’s campuses, curriculum, and students.

Here’s how Fort Bend ISD is using student data:

  • Under the Data Teams methodology, which uses “small, grade-level department, course, content, or organizational teams that collaboratively analyze data and select instructional strategies in order to drive instruction and improve professional practice,” district leaders developed an internal curriculum that met state requirements, student academic needs, and district goals.
  • Members on the data teams reviewed assessments, graded student activities, and determined appropriate enrichment or remediation strategies while developing collective lesson plans.
  • They created a Pacing Guide, along with a central repository of certified assessment resources, to support those efforts.
  • District teams created a comprehensive accountability framework and a continuous improvement process outline.
  • Administrators designated “helping teachers” to help other educators understand the data, what it means, and ensure that instructional materials and practices meet those needs.

“Make sure the public understands what you’re doing. Having parents understand what you’re doing, and why data analysis is important, [is key],” Calvert advised.  “You can’t do this unless you have of course the data, but you also have to have dedicated resources to do that.”

(Next page: How a California district uses student data)

Laura Ascione

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