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Monday / February 27

Using Data to Inform Strategic Decision Making

Valley View School District in Illinois unpacks data and evidence to achieve teacher clarity and improve student outcomes.

While the use of data in schools has changed over the decades, today’s districts face a widening gap between data derived from external assessments and data generated within the classroom. School leaders are challenged. They want educators to use the data to inform instruction and personalize learning, but the majority of data educators receive comes too slowly, is too granular, and offers little value for modifying classroom practices. This has even led many teachers to grow distrustful of the data generated beyond their classrooms. So, how are schools addressing these growing concerns?

A new white paper provides insight into how schools can turn their data and other evidence into an effective, trusted instructional tool. This SmartFocus white paper examines how the Valley View School District 365U in Illinois applied practices from Visible Learningplus, a professional development program based on John Hattie’s Visible Learning research and Larry Ainsworth’s Common Formative Assessments 2.0 (CFA 2.0) to tackle their data overload and clarify their goals for professional development, instruction, and learning experiences for its students and staff.

Visible Learningplus and CFA 2.0 offer a framework deeply based on research to help educators develop a common understanding and shared language around what they are doing in their classrooms. “We had all of this data, but we were looking at it in isolation and not in conjunction with research,” says Karen Flories, executive director for educational services in grades 6–12 at Valley View Schools. Partnering with Corwin’s professional development team, the district introduced Visible Learning research as a tool for assessing teaching practices to determine which ones showed the most significant positive effect on students.

Dave Nagel, Corwin’s certified consultant for on-site professional development for Valley View, points out that assessing student growth is a complex undertaking, one that goes beyond students hitting particular grade marks. “Do students know what they’re learning? Why they’re completing specific tasks? Do teachers feel supported in their professional learning journey?” As Nagel explains, “it has to be a combination of student achievement and student growth results, certainly, but also the voice evidence related to learning. If those things are happening, usually, the achievement results take care of themselves.”

In fact, this has been the case at Valley View, where the district has seen strong correlations between student voice and student outcome data. An example is PARCC scores for middle and high school English/language arts and math that surpassed state averages in the 2014-2015 school year.

Find out more by reading the full white paper on the Corwin website.

Written by

Amanda Boudria oversees marketing for Corwin Australia, Visible Learningplus, and Author Consulting. During a yearlong assignment serving low-income communities, Amanda discovered her personal mission to help advance the quality and availability of education. When she has free time, she practices yoga, paints, and spends time with friends and family. Connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn!

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