Monday, March 7, 2016

Educational Leadership: 5 (Good) Ways to Talk About Data

The November issue of Educational Leadership was titled Doing Data Right. Of course, as educators we should be doing our best to improve instruction and assessment with data informing our choices, but it is a much easier thing to say than to do. One of the featured articles (5 (Good) Ways to Talk About Data) in the issues dealt specifically with how to move a school in the right direction with regard to working with data. The research that has been conducted about professional learning communities suggests that this five components are necessary to have data drive instruction and assessment of student learning.

  • Component 1: Students are the shared responsibility of everyone.
    • All of the students go to the same school, no matter the age -- take ownership and be involved. In my experience, this matter can be dealt with by vertical teams. The more teachers from various grade levels know each other, the more they seem to feel joint responsibility over all students. In the article, it was specifically pointed out that a team should take responsibility for everyones success and failure. This helps build trust.
  • Component 2: Conversations about data include healthy disagreement.
    • The key word is healthy. People need to be able to talk about what the data means and how it should be used. These discussions will involve differing opinions, but everyone must act professionally and with trust. 
  • Component 3: Conversations about data engender trust rather than suspicion.
    • Principals and teachers need to work together. The data shouldn't be used to point the finger, but to better understand how improvements can be made.
  • Component 4: Data teams take a solution-oriented process.
    • Focusing on the solution, rather than the problem. Looking at the data and asking, "What can we do better?" "How can we teach or assess better?"
  • Component 5: Data teams know what they're expected to accomplish.
    • Clear guidelines for what needs to be accomplished, but also room to explore the data and the conclusions. The article pointed out some examples where they witnessed teams trying to complete all the questions, rather than really thinking about the answers/solutions. On the other extreme, there were some teams that didn't seem to have any clear guidelines on what should be done. You need to have structure, but not so much that it becomes busy work for teachers.
Datnow, Amanda, and Vicki Park. "5 (Good) Ways to Talk About Data."Educational Leadership Nov.     2015: 10-15. Web.