Data Utilization

Standardized testing has created an environment where diverse sources of data are not appreciated. "Multiple measures of assessment" is a term that has been represented in the assessment literature. The standardized assessments students are subjected to and high-stakes teacher evaluations have made our data utilization too constricted. The NCLB act incentivized schools to prioritize data utilization to show student achievement and growth gains. However, the data usage priorities focused on state-level generated data. Data on the local level did not necessarily align with state-level data in practicality, objective or use. This has created confusion among schools on how to use data effectively to drive improvement.

Data Utilization Assumptions

The Learning Evaluation process proposed here makes certain assumptions about how data will be gathered, regarded and used.

  • • Multiple sources of data: data is collected, created, consulted, analyzed and prioritized based on the goals and objectives of the school: quantitative, qualitative and anecdotal evidence is consulted. In essence, teacher teams become hubs of action research.
  • • Teams collectively interpret evidence: data is created, collected and presented to teams for analysis.
  • • Pedagogical practices are associated with data: data is used to critically examine instructional practices.

Case Study: With the Right Information, Teachers Flourish

The math department at Aboite High School had experienced some recent turnover and the state standards for high-school math had gone through a rigorous restructuring at the state level. The requirements for high school graduation had also changed, leaving Aboite's curriculum, scope and sequence and course progressions outdated and out of compliance with the new requirements. Mr. Lillard's collaborative skills would be put to the test navigating the changes.

Mr. Lillard started with a small-scale qualitative study of the stakeholders, in this case the principal, three assistant principals and the teachers (certified math instructors). The focus of the work was teacher evaluation.

During qualitative data-gathering he learned about these stakeholders' beliefs, perspectives, values, wanted changes and desired status quo. Using that data, the team was able to build a system that could be agreed upon by the administration and the teachers. They had a process-oriented document that emphasized their needs. Using the Learning Evaluation as a guiding tool, they constructed new elements that were site-specific. It was a broad document that emphasized discussion and conversation over quantitative data.

Aboite High School believed that their use of quantitative data was more than proficient, but felt they lacked collaborative discussions about data at the school, classroom and individual student level. The rubric reflected that, as a tool not to document success or failure, but to communicate, strategize, plan action and implement it. From the broad constructs in the Learning Evaluation document they were able to create a multi-tiered system of support that worked in inter-disciplinary teams, relying less on quantitative data, to identify students requiring intervention. They used the qualitative data appropriately and worked in collaborative teams to identify root cause and tailored instruction for students. The quantitative data told them who needed help; it was the team using their knowledge that discussed, debated, chose and administered the interventions. A teacher that was able to successfully contribute to that initiative through that process would be successful in his or her evaluation. Again, this was all done to meet a local need. Each district, school, staff and team has its own needs to improve adult and student learning. The processes outlined in this new evaluation should help teams identify those needs and incorporate elemental as necessary.