When asked publicly or privately about high stakes assessments for teachers and schools, we always say the same thing: don’t go there. Using value-added models based of student test scores to reward or punish teachers misdiagnoses educator motivation, guides educators away from good assessment practices, and unnecessarily exposes them to technical and human testing uncertainties. Now, to be clear, we do use and value standardized tests in our work. But here’s a 10,000-foot view of why we advise against the high stakes use of value-added models in educator assessments:
When Wayne Craig, then Regional Director of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for Northern Melbourne, Australia, sought to drive school improvement in his historically underperforming district, he focused on building teachers’ intrinsic motivation rather than the use of external carrots and sticks. His framework for Curiosity and Powerful Learning presented a matrix of theories of action that connect teacher actions to learning outcomes. Data informs the research that frames core practices, which then drive teacher inquiry and adoption. The entire enterprise is built on unlocking teacher motivation and teachers’ desire to meet the needs of their students. (more…)Continue reading
As educators, we talk about data, collect data, wade through data, analyze data, and draw conclusions from data that hopefully demonstrate how and why our interventions led to the achievement of our goals. But sometimes there seems to be so much data, so many things we could measure, that it’s difficult to know where to start.
Burying one’s head in the sand – i.e., not planning for the appropriate collection and use of data to drive decision-making – is clearly not the answer. But where to begin? In a guest blog post for ASCD, 30-year educator, administrator and author Craig Mertler shared his top five ways to achieve strategic data use in planning and decision-making. We’ve adapted them here:
1. Find your focus. Planning starts with identification. Mertler suggests zeroing in on a specific “problem of practice” that you want to improve or otherwise address and using that to brainstorm about the types of data you may wish to collect. (more…)Continue reading
When President Obama signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, into law, we had two reactions: 1) Finally! Congress and the President Obama have at last replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and 2) Holy cow! ESSA significantly changes key aspects of our work.
Like most educators, though, we embrace both responses. And we’ve been busy working through what ESSA means for our work and our clients. In doing so, we have come across multiple summaries and commentary worth sharing, which we’ve summarized below.
If you prefer the long version, you can find the full text of the new law here. But our primary takeaway is that ESSA provides targeted resources and tailored prescriptions designed to return accountability and decision-making for student success to state and local leaders. (more…)Continue reading