Giving Compass’ Take:
• This Getting Smart piece details the efforts by a school district in Ohio to aggregate and share data in order to help students who are falling behind. The results have been double-digit growth in test scores.
• What can other education initiatives learn from this example? One is that simply collecting data isn’t enough — the most effective practice here was to make sure there was a complete picture, using many data points in concert.
In the Youngstown City Schools, a high-poverty school district serving about 5,000 students in northeastern Ohio, our students face significant challenges. The industrial economy on which our city was based has struggled for years, and although we are in the midst of an urban renewal project, the city’s median household income was only $24,000 according to the most recent Census. A decade ago, CNNMoney said Youngstown had the lowest median income of any U.S. city with more than 65,000 residents.
Despite these hurdles, our district is showing promising signs of progress. In fact, earlier this year we were proud to witness our students achieved double-digit growth in their scores on Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) benchmark exams.
We give these exams to all students in grades 2-12 (reading) and K-12 (math) to track their academic progress. From the beginning of the 2017-18 school year to the middle of the year, students saw an average gain of 18 percent in reading and 15 percent in math. While there are a number of factors responsible for this mid-year growth, a key element is our district’s use of data to inform instruction and intervention.
We are pulling data from a number of different sources, and we aggregate this information to create an “on track” score for every child. This score, based on various indicators, tells us whether students are at low, moderate, or high risk of failure. Using this early warning system, we can develop academic plans for each student and intervene in time to keep students on track for success.
Read the full article about making school data work together by John LaPlante at Getting Smart.
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