Saturday, June 18, 2011

School District Analysis

I spent a fair bit of time on the Reading School District website and did not find any information regarding the school's vision / mission statements. I was quickly able to find vision / mission statements on three other public school districts within my county, so I am sad that this information is not readily available on my school's website. With that said, I will do my best to comment on how the district supports a culture of data.

In the area of instruction, our school is in the process of implementing Learning Focused Solutions over a period of three years (“Learning Focused”). Learning Focused provides “practical and innovative solutions and products with an emphasis on advanced student learning, instructional practices, and leadership skills”. What this means in practical terms is that all of the teachers in my school have received training on activating strategies, essential questions, graphic organizers, student learning maps, and summarizing strategies. As a relatively new teacher, this process has been overwhelming at times. But the fact that these solutions are being implemented over the course of time has been very helpful to me.

As an example, let me expand about Essential Questions. An “essential question” is a question that students may not know at the beginning of a class period, but should know by the end of the class period. A mathematics example is “How do I solve a quadratic equation using the quadratic formula?” In order to answer this question, a student must be able to identify a quadratic equation, put the equation in standard form, identify the “a, b, and c” variables, substitute these values into the quadratic formula, and perform the math necessary to solve the quadratic equation. The essential question presumes some prior knowledge on the students' part – such as being able to identify a quadratic equation. The idea of an essential question is to keep the students – and teacher – focused on the day's objective. At the end of the lesson, students should have the ability to answer the day's essential question.

In the area of assessment, our school conducts 4Sight tests in Reading and Math each quarter of the year. These tests are scored and the results provided to the subject area teachers in order to give their students feedback on their progress with relation to proficiency. As a teacher, I have the ability to review the test questions with my students and help them to improve their scores throughout the year. It is helpful for students to see their own progress throughout the year as well.

In terms of environment, there is a fair bit of data available for helping our students to improve. The most visible example is the Study Island data used in preparation for PSSA testing. The weekly PSSA assignments are compiled and analyzed by administrative staff in order to provide focused instruction in the weeks immediately prior to PSSA testing. This strategy has been successful in the English Department and was implemented for the first time in the Math Department in the 2010-11 school year.

In terms of data use, I know that there is a lot of data available about my students in different places – eSchoolplus and Performance Tracker – but it is only used sporadically to help analyze our students. I can certainly look at a student's personal information and see how he/she is performing in all classes. I can also see other personal contact information and medical / special needs alerts. But as far as having focused, coherent data which will help me to raise that student's level of knowledge in Mathematics, the 4Sight information mentioned earlier is the best data that I have at my disposal.

Learning Focused. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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