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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Value in Data Analysis Committees

Educators are inundated with data in today's schools. State school report card and accountability test data are the two most likely data sources that teachers and principals encounter, but what are we doing with these data? A school-level data analysis committee is essential to making sense of this information.

The data analysis committee should help all stakeholders in the school better understand school and teacher characteristics, describe the school's performance relative to its peers, and examine teaching and learning in the school. The detail of the analysis should be tailored to individual schools, however, this committee should be charged with doing more than a cursory analysis. With the amount of data available today, it is no longer prudent for educators to simply claim that X percentage of students passed the state's accountability test.

A primary charge of the data analysis committee should be to identify areas of mastery in the school, because they exist in all schools and mastery is a strong predictor of future performance. Areas needing improvement, whether specific content areas, detailed cluster scores within content areas, or specific NCLB disaggregates, also need to be identified by the data analysis committee to allow educators to reflect on reasons why performance was not where it needs to be. Results from such analyses will provide classrooms teachers with the knowledge of past performance to improve their future instruction to ensure that all students succeed.

It is imperative that educators use the available data to guide their teaching. The school-level data analysis committee is a valuable resource in helping all teachers understand past performance. Use the data as a basis for professional growth to improve your performance. Don't be a data-proof educator. How do you plan to use this committee or other data to improve your practice for the upcoming school year?

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