We spend a lot of time in schools working with principals and teachers. Each member of our team can tell a story about how the mere mention of “data” or “assessment” sucked the air out of a room and shut down conversation.
There’s a stigma about data. Maybe it’s the fact that data and assessments are all tied up in numbers, and if you look at the research, the majority of us just don’t believe we’re good with numbers. Or it could be the fact that many of studies we read about effective methodologies come from scholarly articles that contain phrases like, “linear regressions,” or “hierarchical linear modeling” or “multiple regression formula.” They all talk about “limitations.”
Let’s face it, many people are just not comfortable speaking about data. But if we truly believe “every child can learn at high levels,” we need to become comfortable with assessments and data. Assessments deliver vital information (aka, data) about each and every child. Knowing what each piece of data means and how to use it is the fastest and most direct path to realizing high outcomes for all students.
EDWorks uses these primary questions about assessment to help leaders and teachers learn to integrate data analysis into their daily practice. Basically, assessments answer these primary questions:
- Where are we today? (baseline data)
- Where are we going? (goals/desired outcomes)
- How far is it? (the gap between current performance and the desired outcome plus the length of time to achieve the goals)
- How far have we come? (progress reports, periodic updates)
- Are we there yet? (evidence that we’ve achieved our goals, summative data)
By understanding the various types of assessments and using them well, the adults and students in a school community can answer these questions with confidence and specificity.
The EDWorks Fast Track Early College High School is focused on student learning and achievement. Drawing on the lessons of nationally-recognized researchers and practitioners like Richard DuFour, Rick Stiggins, Judy Wurtzel, Robert Marzano, and others, EDWorks has developed a protocol for use in Professional Learning Communities that effectively provides both assessment of learning and assessment for learning.
The EDWorks hands-on system of leadership and professional development supports sites in the effective use and, as appropriate, development of the following balanced system of assessments and reports.
Data used to inform teaching and learning at the classroom level:
- Baseline diagnostic data
- Common Assessments
- Classroom Assessment
- Performance-Based Assessment
- Results of Online and Blended Assessments
- Teacher Self-Assessment of Practice and Student Performance
Data used by the District, State and National bodies to judge school effectiveness over time:
- State-Mandated end of course and/or graduation tests
- College and career readiness assessments (ACT WorkKeys, Compass, Accuplacer, ACT, SAT, etc.)
The greatest professional development emphasis in the EDWorks system of aligned assessments revolves around helping teachers and students employ assessment for learning.
- Teachers design assessments every day as part of the instructional process. EDWorks begins by helping teachers view themselves as assessment professionals and designers as they plan their classroom learning experiences. By increasing teachers’ knowledge and skills in assessment, EDWorks can help them gather better data from their students about knowledge and skills gained through the learning experience.
- Once teachers have an understanding of strong assessment design, EDWorks helps them articulate achievement standards and goals for students before they actually teach a course, unit or lesson. Approaching assessment in this fashion actually motivates students to achieve and take responsibility for their own learning.
- Over time, EDWorks helps teachers use multiple sources of data to adjust their classroom instruction to better meet student needs.
- Through the full system of aligned assessments, teachers and students can communicate their learning and achievements more effectively with each other, their parents/guardians and the community.
This focus on multiple strategies of assessment for learning increases the insights of leaders, teachers and students about the assessment process, leading to a purpose-driven, motivational, high-performing learning environment.