Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Explaining differences in School Productivity

A report from EdSource Online called "Similar Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better?" reports the results of a large study in California that attemps to unpack how differences in school staff (their attitudes, experience, practices, etc.) explain different outcomes with similar students. The study found that parent involvment contibutes to student outcomes but that in-school factors such as teacher experience, stadards-based instruction, and early focus on student improvment by school leaders were more substantial.

Learinng Point Associates does an intesting look at this issue at the classroom and building level as it pertains to data use. They reported on the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative in August 2004. The following are a summary of the results:

"Summary of Recommendations
1. Schools need frequent, reliable data. Whether in the form of diagnostic assessments or qualitative data, teachers and school leaders need frequent feedback to identify strengths and weaknesses.
2. Teachers need support to use data. Teachers need professional development regarding how to understand data and how to take action on the data. They also need collaboration time to discuss strategies and visit each others’ classrooms to observe practice.
3. Race matters. Schools need to hire and promote people of color and provide structured, data-based opportunities for faculty to discuss how race and ethnicity affects students’ experiences in school. They should get specific regarding what equity should look like and then set measurable goals regarding how to reach that vision of equity.
4. Focus is essential. Schools should not try to do everything. Instead, they should choose what matters most and can be controlled within school walls and focus on it. One essential focus is to make sure that students are mastering reading/literacy skills; these skills are the foundation of learning."

What concerns me here in my efforts to support district- and state-level data system and decision support work is where to go with these recommendations. The things that seem to be in my area are improving accountability and assessment regimes and tools as well as pushing to make more learning opportunities around data-informed decision making available for state, district, and school staff.


No comments: