Saturday, November 19, 2016

Using Data to Make Student-Centered Decisions

Data is sometimes thought of as a "dirty" word in education.

My Assistant Principal and I are some of the weird ones that really love looking at it as an incredible source to help make informed student-centered decisions.  I'm lucky to have a tribe that also feels that accountability and transparency are important in order to make decisions that are best for our students.

Here is what we utilize at Vero Beach Elementary to see grade level trends.  Our school grade is based on a 700 point scale created by the state of Florida.  However, in order to really understand our school, we felt there were a series of indicators that we needed to study beyond the 7 areas to analyze to keep us all on track.

This is a close up of our hallway grade-level data wall. 

We decided that in addition to English Language Arts (ELA), Math, and Science; we needed to study our school wide writing data, STEM units and essential questions, office discipline referrals, attendance, and AR reading data.  These 8 areas are tracked by grade level and are fully visible at all times in a main hallway of our office.  We take parents and guests to VBE by the wall to show them the progress and areas of growth and improvement we are working on.  Our School Advisory Council uses it to help show progress towards our school improvement plan goals. We also use it to help determine areas that may need additional support, and areas that we can celebrate.  It's amazing each month to see our data continue to roll in based on our interventions and tier one instructional support.

This is done through our team being committed to the data.  It's everyone working together in our tribe to keep it updated and relevant.  Our amazing secretaries, Sara Milliman and Claudia Villadrosa, pull attendance data each week by grade level to assist; our coaches pull updated benchmarks and test, and our grade chairs update writing data, units, and essential questions.  Administration adds discipline data and celebrations.  What's great about the board is that is shows that EVERY child is OUR child.  It doesn't point fingers at any particular teacher, it really is meant to help us see how each grade level is moving forward.

What next?  We needed a more personalized private approach to individualize the data.

We have recently added a more specific data analysis.  We took a day to work with each grade level team to analyze our benchmark data.  Our teachers had a chance to personalize this by creating a single teacher folder.  Each student was represented by name and data.  This allows our teacher to create personalized intervention plans for them in ELA and Math.  There's no magic wand at VBE to make improvements.  It takes every single adult being willing to deeply invest in every single child in order to get them the tools they need to be successful.  This allowed each teacher to see who needs tier 2 and tier 3 additional support, and who may need more challenge and enrichment.  We were also able to have open conversations about tier one instructional improvement when we noticed grade level trends based on benchmark data.


I know most of you are probably snoring right now, but I find this all so very interesting!  I love data and how it helps us really hone in on what WE need to do for our kiddos!

Finally, we had an opportunity to visit a school that had gone through the process of school improvement.  Our third grade team visited Principal Kelly Baysura, at Treasure Coast Elementary.  We were able to see such great tier one instruction and support from their third grade team.  One of our biggest takeaways as a leadership team, however, was from the data walls.  We realized that, while having our teacher personalize the data, we needed to have our coaches do the same.  We came back to VBE ready to work on our "Little Indian WAR WALL."  We are committed to fight against any barriers our students have that may be preventing them from reaching their true potential.

What exactly did we do?
We wrote every single student in each class on a post it note, designated in color by the students teacher.  On the post it we put last year's FSA scale score and level, the students baseline (for 3rd grade ELA) the benchmark score and left room under that for more data points.  On the very bottom left hand corner we added a red, yellow, or green star to indicate current iready level based on the diagnostic test our students took.  We indicated if the student is receiving services for English as a second language, or ESE services as well to help us ensure we are meeting their needs.

Finally, we added a red dot on our students who are counted in our bottom quartile. 

We did this for grades 3-5 in ELA and Math creating two separate boards.  Finally, our STEM coach made a separate board for our Science Benchmarks for our 5th grade students.  This is a very important indicator for us because the percentage of 5th grade students proficient last year at VBE was only 22%.  This counts as 100 points of the total 700 our school must earn in order to be graded by the state.

Once we finished labeling, we went through and categorized our students based on their scores and placed them in the red, yellow, or green... the closer they are on the board to the next level in proximity, the closer we are to moving them up.

This helped us hone in on two key areas first.  What enrichment opportunities are we offering our students who are at proficiency in Math and ELA, and do we have tiered 2 and 3 interventions in place for our students who are showing need?

This visual helps us quickly see if there are students who have been overlooked, or if students are receiving tier 2 support that can be adjusted back down to tier one based on growth.

This visual has allowed our team to continue our journey of accountability, transparency, and student-centered data based decision making at Vero Beach Elementary.

On our way to an A.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Invest in Families and Literacy!!!

VBE 1st annual Family Literacy Lantern Competition

VBE 1st Annual Storybook Parade. 

We have learned that if we invest in our families and in literacy, we can't go wrong!
Little Indians, Big Dreams!