Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo

4. Creating a Culture for Success

  • There are many studies that show how positive cultures or shared visions lead to success. The good news is that complete by-in is not necessary and may not even be possible. Buy-in is something you create along the way. It is, however, necessary to have your leadership team on board, which includes the teachers with the most influence. Great care my be taken in setting up introductory professional development. A calendar with dates for assessment, scoring, analysis, and professional development needs to be available to everyone. There should also be room for re-teaching.
  • Many of the best schools have reached out to other schools. The idea is Build While Borrowing. Paul is a proponent of visiting schools that have demonstrated success. Leaders should also make sure that other things don’t get in the way of the assessment cycle. Look for things people are doing that don’t need to be done or can be done more efficiently.

5. Overcoming Obstacles

  • It is important to distinguish between formative assessments and interim assessments. Formative assessments are in-the-moment checks for understanding. They can look at any subset of what has been taught and are part of the action steps teachers take as the result of their analysis. Interim assessments cover all the material taught up to that point. Since learning isn’t like riding a bike, it is important that interim assessments track student progress on all standards. Creating your own interim assessments can be a daunting task. Look to top performing districts in your state for help. Creating your own should increase teacher buy-in. Initial assessments should start with pre-grade-level material so you can see how far behind some students are.
  • Below second grade it may be necessary to administer assessments one-to-one. Don’t let reading difficulties get in the way of a student’s math skills. Consider reading the math test to students. If you have not covered some content prior to an interim assessment, take that into consideration when analyzing the results, and avoid having data teams analyze data for teachers not on the team. In terms of picking strategies, see Increasing Rigor Throughout the Lesson on the CD-ROM. If you let the results do the talking. Best practices should emerge.
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