It's is not unusual to hear educators talk about the pressing need for more hours in a day. But what if data could, in fact, save time and help change the very culture of our schools?
Two school leaders have seen this happen. Their focus on taking time to examine their schools' assessment data enabled them to make decisions that support student growth and make real and lasting improvements in their schools.
In 2000, Patrick Marolt took the reigns of the Challenger Elementary School in Minnesota. A rural, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school with 900 students (40 percent free/reduced lunch), Challenger struggled with flat state test scores for several years. In fact, the school was at risk for not meeting No Child Left Behind's Adequate Yearly Progress requirement. Sharing ideas was not a high priority among teachers, and they did not know how best to support their students so the children would grow academically.
Marolt decided it was critical to set goals for his school and his staff by focusing on what his assessment data told him needed attention. In just 2 years of concentrated effort, Challenger Elementary not only successfully met its AYP proficiency level, it moved to the 95th percentile for student academic growth compared to similar schools in the nation, jumping as much as 10 to 18 percent in some grade levels. It has rising state assessment scores, along with a new atmosphere of collaboration among teachers and excitement among students to achieve growth goals they set for themselves.
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