After reading my blog, The specified item was not found., do you feel that teachers can use the model described to make decisions to improve student learning?
If there are free resources like Thinkfinity, how do teachers make the decisions to use them to improve student learning?
Should Teachers be evaluated on how they make date-driven decisions that improve student achievement?
I look forward to reading your thoughts.
Verizon Education Blogger
Hi Connie! Great topic, here is my two cents worth.
The mistake we make with regard to data-driven decision making is placing too much emphasis on how to use the process in evaluating progress (and then providing remediation) on standardized tests. As pointed out in your blog post, data-driven decision making is a process which can be applied to many aspects of teaching and learning including, as you indicate, a decision about whether to use online resources (such as those found in Thinkfinity) in the classroom.
What I believe is that we need to teach the process more generically and show how it applies to many decisions that are made about teaching and learning. If we teach teachers more about it, then we will, by virture of assessing their student's progress, be evaluating their use of data-driven decision making in addition to all the other tools they use to help their students improve. Not sure how we would isolate it in an evaluation since there are so many ways it can be done.
Teachers make data-driven decisions every day. Based on how our students are performing on tests (both national and teacher-created) we search to find resources that will help them do better. The teachers at our school evaluate Thinkfinity resources and collaboratively look for the most appropriate ones for use with our students. I have given a pre-test and a post-test to determine if learning has indeed taken place.
Now, do I want to be evaluated on my decision-making process? Is that any more appropriate than evaluating me on my students' progress?
As long as I know the parameters I am being evaluated on and am given the training to do it, I'm ok with your idea,
My district has asked teachers to create pre-assessments for non-tested units. Those assessments need to address the core standards in our respective subject areas. The pre-assessments are based on what teachers expect students to learn by the end of a unit. Basically it would be a final test and units of study are created using the Understanding By Design framework. My district asked us to provide a sample of 10 grades (students were identified by numbers, not their names) and to give the same assessment at the end of the unit. My students were a bit upset when they saw their initial grades (I gave the assessments to all of my students instead of just a sampling), but I told them that if the majority of the students already knew the material, what good would it do for me to teach it? I let them know that I was hoping they would get lower than 50% on the prior knowledge - and they sure did. I then tested them with the same assessment mid-way through the unit and at the end of the unit. The students recorded their grades and were able to see their own progress. This was more meaningful to them than just testing at the end of the unit. Although it was more time consuming and has met with some resistance, I found it helpful and enlightening (yes, even after 35 years of teaching, I can learn a thing or two!). I will admit that I used www.studyisland.com to administer, grade, and record the assessment. Students were thrilled to use the remotes to input their answers and were even more excited to see the change in their knowledge of the unit. I had them determine the rate of change in their knowledge, and they were quite proud of their accomplishments!
As far as teacher performance being judged by student achievement, I feel that it is unfair. All too often students have too much baggage to be graded fairly:
they are placed in regular education classrooms when they really need to be put in an E.D. class
they are living with a dysfunctional family
they may be using drugs or alcohol
they may be abused or neglected
There are just too many variables to use student achievement as the basis for teacher evaluation. However, teachers should recognize their place in using their specific student data to drive their instruction.
they have other things on their mind besides doing their best in school
As an off-shoot of this question, what about teacher merit pay? eSchool News just released an article explaining why schools cannot be run like corporations and pay employees merit raises. Take a look at the article--"Why teacher merit pay can't work today--and what can be done about this."
I'd be interested in reading your thoughts regarding the writer's point of view. Do you agree or disagree with merit pay for teachers?
Amy Gordon shared the following comment in another post--
Although most schools assess students on almost a daily basis in a variety of ways, the challenge that still lies ahead for educators is how to use the data effectively to improve student achievement. A special report in eSchoolNews examines what some schools are implementing that seems to most successful in meeting this challenge.
Check out the report: "Turning data into achievement" and share what has been most effective in your school or district.