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Professional Development
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Data-Driven Rationale

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Data from various sources can serve a number of important staff development purposes. First, data on student learning gathered from standardized tests, district-made tests, student work samples, portfolios, and other sources provide important input to the selection of school or district improvement goals and provide focus for staff development efforts. This process of data analysis and goal development typically determines the content of teachers' professional learning in the areas of instruction, curriculum, and assessment.

Helpful data are typically drawn from other sources, including norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests, grade retention, high school completion, reports of disciplinary actions, school vandalism costs, enrollment in advanced courses, performance tasks, and participation in post-secondary education. Data on individual tests can be analyzed to learn how much students advanced in one year as well as particular strengths and weaknesses associated with the focus of the test. These data are typically disaggregated to reveal differences in learning among subgroups of students. The most common forms of disaggregation include gender, socioeconomic status, native language, and race.

A second use of data is in the design and evaluation of staff development efforts, both for formative and summative purposes. Early in a staff development effort, educational leaders must decide what adults will learn and be able to do and which types of evidence will be accepted as indicators of success. They also determine ways to gather that evidence throughout the change process to help make midcourse corrections to strengthen the work of leaders and providers. Data can also indicate to policy makers and funders the impact of staff development on teacher practice and student learning.

A third use of data occurs at the classroom level as teachers gather evidence of improvements in student learning to determine the effects of their professional learning on their own students. Teacher-made tests, assignments, portfolios, and other evidence of student learning are used by teachers to assess whether staff development is having desired effects in their classrooms. Because improvements in student learning are a powerful motivator for teachers, evidence of such improvements as a result of staff development experiences helps sustain teacher momentum during the inevitable frustrations and setbacks that accompany complex change efforts. Another benefit of data analysis, particularly the examination of student work, is that the study of such evidence is itself a potent means of staff development. Teachers who use one of several group processes available for the study of student work report that the ensuing discussions of the assignment, the link between the work and content standards, their expectations for student learning, and the use of scoring rubrics improve their teaching and student learning.

If data are to provide meaningful guidance in the process of continuous improvement, teachers and administrators require professional development regarding data analysis, designing assessment instruments, implementing various forms of assessment, and understanding which assessment to use to provide the desired information. Because the preservice preparation of teachers and administrators in assessment and data analysis has been weak or nonexistent, educators must have generous opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills related to formative classroom assessment, data collection, data analysis, and data-driven planning and evaluation.

  • Cataloged: Sep-28-2003
  • Country: USA

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