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The Academic Leadership Year – Part 3

Academic Leadership

In states with more detailed district and school reports, we can carry our analysis to another level. In states that offer information on individual student performance, or in a best case scenario the actual student work and how it was scored, we can connect more dots and begin to speculate about cause.

With this type of data set we can fine tune the district or school assumptions and take findings to the classroom level. For example, if the state report provides general descriptive information on each of the questions (e.g., type, content, weight) that might look like this:

Test Question # Type Content Task weight % correct  

We can then use this descriptor to add details to the sorting activity completed in part two to identify group issues with question type, content, task or complexity/weight.

Test Question # % correct African-American % correct Special Education % correct ESL % correct American Indian % correct Pacific Rim  

If the state provides a summary of individual student responses on each of the questions, we can also profile individual students and identify individual issues with question type, content, etc. The table below was used to profile student performance on a district benchmark test. It allowed teachers in the district to identify priority concern areas for each student and helped inform their support systems.

test: grade level: student Q1 MC Q2 MC Q3 MC Q4 MC Q5 MC Q6 EL Q7 OR Q8 MC Q9 OR Q10 MC Q 11 MC Q 12 MC Q 13 MC Q 14 OR Q 15 EL

When the actual work is provided, we can begin to probe for cause, which is where Ed Directions wants to get before we actually finalize the student improvement plan. In one state, for example, where copies of the actual student test booklet and the scoring notes were provided, teachers could probe missed questions to determine things like point of break down and possible cause of breakdown. A school in the state used the chart below to probe student assessment profiles.

Overall Score:
Expected Score:
Question missed Content: Task: Point of break down read correctlyknew the contentcompleted the tasksmastery of the taskanswered correctly Notes/concerns:
Question missed Content: Task: Point of break down read correctlyknew the contentcompleted the tasksmastery of the taskanswered correctly Notes/concerns:

If the data is not provided by the state, our school improvement plan will have to begin with the data collection activity that determines students’ current assessment status and allows us to not only identify the point at which work breaks down, but also possibly the cause of breakdown. This will enable us to develop teaching/learning plans that, coupled with targeted support programs, enable all students to move from where they are to their potential performance under a standard. If you think about it in terms of a planning process, we establish:

Did we meet our goals?

Where did we lose points on the assessment?

Are there red flag patterns between/among teachers or groups of students? If so, do we know what happened?

Can we identify patterns in content or questions that can inform strategic planning?

Have we learned enough about our students to design units and lessons that, when coupled with support systems targeted to their needs, will enable them to reach their potential as a performer on a state test and make a successful transition to the next stage of education or life?

Once we answer these questions we can develop a student focused and strategic action plan for improving our students and thereby improving our scores.

For Ed Directions senior staff and Ed Directions coaches, the time invested in data collection, organization, and analysis during the summer enables us to do those management and leadership tasks in ways that intentionally shape systems (e.g. schedules) and staff (e.g. staff self-assessment of readiness to implement the school improvement plan or a targeted personal PD plan to enhance competence in providing the experiences students need to improve as learner and performer). This enables us to become intentional in our practice.

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