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Using Data to Measure School Effectiveness

Written by Justin Cook on December 16th, 2019

As an administrator, you’re committed to providing an exceptional learning environment, where students can thrive socially, emotionally, spiritually, and academically. But how do you know if students are learning? Is your school effectively supporting the growth of each student, regardless of ability? What are the specific learning gaps within a classroom and how do you identify them?

Currently, 43 of our Edvance elementary schools use an assessment tool called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to support their staff and students in answering these questions. Of those schools, approximately 66% assess three times per year—fall, winter spring, and the other third assess twice—in the fall and spring only.

Collecting this data takes time, but it can help to evaluate the effectiveness of current practice, and change assumptions into evidence-based decisions and action. We have identified three ways in which MAP provides effective data:

Goal #1: Support for individual students academically: MAP is an interim universal screening assessment, meaning it is administered at regular intervals in the middle of learning to all students (1) to identify all students’ academic progress and (2) to support personalized instruction plans and interventions.

Goal #2: Evaluation of the curricular program: A school can look at its school-wide performance to identify grade-specific and school-wide trends in strands of curriculum, aligned to Ontario Ministry curriculum. When these trends remain consistent through multiple testing sessions, the school can target these trends by changing practice in their curricular delivery. Edvance can also do this evaluation at the association level.

Goal #3: Measurement of school effectiveness for current and incoming parents: MAP provides reliable third-party data that validates schools’ ability to support student achievement. I’d offer a caution here, however. Our mission is not to prove how smart we are; the mission is to support all students regardless of ability. In this regard, pay more attention to your growth norms rather than your overall mean RIT scores. Stress that the school is committed to the growth of each child socially, emotionally, spiritually, and of course academically, and explain how MAP helps to do that for each child in core academic skills.

Each of these goals requires time and attention to examine, analyze, and discuss the data. This means we need to schedule time for teachers outside of their teaching time to engage the data. And inside our classrooms, we need to schedule time for students to see and interpret their data too.

There are a number of resources that can help you use your time efficiently in both contexts. First, NWEA outlines the focus of data conversations for each testing season in their Tri-Annual Data Conversations Framework. This resource outlines by each testing season the purpose of professional and student conversations for that particular time of year.

Second, to involve and support students in understanding and acting on their MAP data, NWEA Connection provides a helpful page: Conducting Student Data Conferences. Be sure to check out the student conference video on that page.

Whether this is your first year or sixth year implementing MAP, Edvance is committed to supporting you in your use of it as effective data. And we want to learn with you! If there is a structure or use of MAP that you’re willing to share, please reach out.

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