Jessica Bohn

Principal or Asst Principal

Burlington, NC

Interests: 21st century learning,...

  • Posted 5 Years ago
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3 Ways Principals Can Teach Data-Driven Instruction

Data OVRLD… Shrtcut 2 undrstndng: Attn Principals:  How can u teach tchrs shrtcuts 2 use data in a data-ovrlded envr?  

At times, teachers’ use of data can seem more like a shortcut to completing a to-do list, rather than a driving force for instructional decisions. As a principal in a fairly large, progressive district, I find myself thinking about all of the data accessible to teachers today.  We have formative assessments, common assessments, pre and post unit assessments, state (EOG, EOC) assessments, DIBELs, DRAs, TRCs, beginning middle and end of year screeners… and the list goes on.  As the saying goes, sometimes we are ‘data rich and information poor’.  Of course the adage describes the situation that arises from having so much data that the analysis becomes as clear as Chlorella (pond scum).  So how can principals help teachers find a clear path through muddy waters?

1. Create a data wall that aligns to the RtI model. Have teachers put relevant data on one card for reading and one card for math, and perhaps a separate card for science and/or social studies depending on your assessments.  In PLCs (Professional Learning Communities), the teachers should use all data points to decide where to place each card (in red, yellow or green). It does not suffice to have a curriculum coordinator or other support personnel place the card on the data wall.  When teachers have to engage with the data to decide the level of the child, they become more acutely aware of varying levels of understanding and how different data points can contribute meaning.


2. Provide practical problem-based professional development in using various data to develop lesson plans.  A problem based approach to professional development can be extremely useful in complex situations.  As stated in the ASCD book Energizing Teacher Education and Professional Development with Problem-Based Learning (Levin, 2001), “using PBL for teacher…professional development…offers teachers opportunities to work together to solve complex problems.” In a PD setting, give teachers a problem or scenario that involves multiple data points that may not provide the same perspective, and have them work in teams to analyze sample data and develop intervention plans based on their analysis.  I am a firm believer that problem-based learning bridges a pathway between theory and practice.

3. Revitalize your Professional Learning Communities.  Make sure that PLCs are focused on teachers using data to respond instructionally, rather than field trips, behavior, personal issues, etc.  Create an easy form that asks teacher teams to:

             --state curriculum standard

             --percentage of students at mastery of that standard

                     (% mastered, % can do but not independently, % cannot do)

             --an instructional plan to address each of those respective groups

Although not as simple as the single-celled green algae Chlorella, teacher usage of data can be structured in a way that provides a clear path for student achievement.

Work Cited:  Levin, Barbara. Energizing Teacher Education and Professional Development with Problem-Based Learning.  ASCD, 2001.

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