Sunday, April 5, 2015

Keep Hearing About "DATA" as a Way to Make Instruction More Effective?

Personally, I think that the Data Driven Instruction movement is largely misguided. Often, what I see is data being used to 'power up' instruction that is failing, not so much because the 'right' challenge isn't presented to the student at the 'right' time (an approach based on Mastery Learning, a well known approach to instruction that's been around for a good,, long time), but because that instruction is part of an outmoded paradigm of learning that the institution of School is holding onto and attempting a variety of reform approaches to make work, even though it ought to be phased out. The story of the conflict of 2 paradigms, the old, traditional one, and of a new, emerging one is a very extensive discussion for another time (and one for which I am well into writing yet another book to explain). For now, unless you've been out-of-touch with trends in School Reform, you've heard of Data Driven Instruction and, as an Instructional Technologist in the role of School Leader, you really need to be familiar with. See the article below as a good example of how this movement shows up currently 'in the conversation'...

From T.H.E. Journal:

"Data & Analytics

The Power of Small Data

In order to deliver personalized education, districts have to gather and share students' statistics. Here's how the strategic use of data can boost teaching and learning..."
"...When it seems like every week brings news of a massive theft of consumers' private information, "data" is in danger of becoming a four-letter word. But if districts want to provide truly personalized education, gathering and sharing certain types of student data is absolutely necessary. According to Patricia Cotter, a veteran entrepreneur who recently completed her doctorate in work-based learning at the University of Pennsylvania, "Recent technologies like big data, the Internet of Things, mobile apps and improved storage have made it possible to acquire, combine, store, analyze, interpret and report findings during any phase of data management."
Taking a break from the business world, Cotter has recently trained her keen eye on education, where she said she sees a renaissance in data collection "The data repositories residing in disconnected, fragmented departments with little sharing have now been transformed into centralized, interrelated data systems to enable fast and efficient retrieval of interrelated data for quick and informed decision-making," she said. Here are some examples of how getting the right information to the right people at the right time can inspire teachers and students to do their best work.
Instant Feedback for Students and Parents
Classrooms usually have a wide range of academic levels, and nowhere is that more true than combination classes such as the one headed by Lisa Wilson, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Arroyo Seco Elementary School in Livermore, CA. With two grade levels in the same room, Wilson individualizes the mathematics curriculum using TenMarks Math, which allows her to customize assignments for each student.
Students use the TenMarks online tool, which is essentially an interactive workbook. Wilson, a 24-year teaching veteran and technology lead teacher at her school, explained, "I get percentages and scores on the different standards they work on." She can see which students are not passing a given standard, "then I pull those students for intervention that same day."
The crucial element of timeliness makes it easier for Wilson to avoid the slow "fall through the cracks" that affects so many students. "They work in the morning, and I check scores at recess," she said. "After lunch I know who I need to work with in a small group. It used to be you would only know after you gave the test and you were onto something else, and you would never catch those kids. Since I've been using TenMarks — only since January 2015 — the number of my kids failing the math test has gone way down."
For intense practice in math facts, Wilson points her students toward XTraMath, a Web program that tracks proficiency in basic facts. For example, if students keep missing "9 times 7" or "6 times 8," they get those every other problem, and if they don't get the answer correct within a few seconds, the program will put the answer in grey scale so students have to type it in and learn it. The program provides instant feedback, and Wilson keeps a close eye on the data, making a point to know where her students are with math facts.
Spelling City and Moby Max help Wilson to track spelling and vocabulary, and to collect the most familiar bits of data: grades. "My students take online spelling tests now on Spelling City, and they wear headphones," said Wilson. "I can give students different spelling lists, and they do it on Chromebooks. Spelling City corrects the tests and sends me the scores."
School Loop helps tie it all together by allowing Wilson to tell parents how their kids are doing in real time. Wilson explained, "It's an electronic grade book, and parents can see the grades. They can get a daily e-mail of how their child is doing. That cuts down a lot on questions, because it's all listed." And, she added, "It tells parents all the things their child did not do."

Also, from ASCD's Smart Brief 4/7/2015
Special Report: Building a Data-driven Culture
How can schools use data to drive conversations about student outcomes? How can school leaders build trust for new initiatives with educators, parents, students and the community?

In this ASCD SmartBrief special report, we focus on news about these issues, including using data to improve instruction and lead discussions around performance and goal-setting. We feature a Q&A with principal Robert Rayburn. And we've included a section highlighting tips for change leaders.

If you don't receive ASCD SmartBrief daily, we urge you to sign up for our free, timely e-newsletter. ASCD SmartBrief delivers the stories making news in your profession directly to your inbox -- for free.

Expert Insight 

  • Collaboration, communication help drive data-driven culture
    In this interview, Robert Rayburn, principal of Chavez Elementary School in Norwalk, Calif., discusses ways school leaders can help create a data-driven culture. He highlights the importance of making time for teacher collaboration and the need to bring parents into the data conversation. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (4/3)   
  • Developing a Data-driven Culture 
    • How districts are making student data work
      School districts profiled in this article are using student data to enhance teaching and learning. Strategies include using data to provide instant feedback to students and parents as well as using data from formative assessments to help students make academic progress. T.H.E. Journal (4/1)
    • School district uses goals, data to drive differentiation
      Goals and data can help drive differentiated learning for students and teachers, asserts Mark Garrison, a technology director. In this blog post, he highlights how his district uses this principle. "Measures of teachers and student technology use, access and skills help us benchmark our effectiveness and make adjustments throughout the year," he writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/17)

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