There are two basic types of data to work with in a school, student data and teacher data. Using student data is the first stage of data analysis and if you aren’t using data on your campus this is where to start. Student data will indicate where the low hanging fruit can be found. For example, I was working with a campus and in the midst of doing some item analysis, we discovered that students were overwhelmingly missing science questions that dealt with application. That problem was solved by getting students in the lab for more hands-on activities.
However, student data will only take you so far. The next stage of data use revolves around teacher data. It is the team analysis of this data that is the foundation of a truly vibrant professional learning community. To begin this process, leadership must provide teachers with three tools. The first is a common scope and sequence, the second is short-term, common assessments and the third is hyper-monitoring data. These three tools allow teachers to identify which teachers make the biggest and most consistent gains with the campus’ most academically fragile students and which components of pedagogy seems to make the biggest impact in the classrooms.
Armed with this information and time to plan, learn and adapt, an instructional staff can go from sub-par to extraordinary in less than a year.