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Monfredo: Looking at Student Data on State Testing

Saturday, November 10, 2018

 

School data is the accountability process of the 21st century within our nation’s schools.  Like it or not, it’s here to stay. However, one needs to look at the data as a “snapshot” of what the schools are doing but by no means does it tell the entire story. The good news in the Worcester Public Schools is that the district is seeing increases in students’ performances, and based on what other districts comparable to Worcester achieved, the district did exceptionally well.

Based on the eleven Urban District Progress in Massachusetts, the Worcester Public Schools was one of only a few districts not labeled by the state as needing assistance or intervention and had a high percentage of progress toward improvement.  The same can be said of the data on Urban District Achievement Data for Worcester was again one of the highest in this category.

This not to say that the district doesn’t have students in need of additional support, for they do have many and the district has identified those students in need and has a plan in place.   Of the 42 schools in the district ten have been labeled as in need of additional support and will work on making changes within their school buildings.  Another state data was chronic absenteeism.  On a whole chronic absenteeism continues to decrease in Worcester and those students with a high average of absenteeism showed a decrease in their overall academics.  The lesson here is come to school each day and learn more for attendance counts!

The state does set turnaround practices for all districts to consider and they are also good guidelines for all schools to review.  These practices are … Leadership, shared responsibility and professional collaboration … this includes school leaders making strategic use of staffing, scheduling, and budgeting autonomy to focus on implementing their plan or other improvement effects…

Practices for improving instruction… defined expectations for rigorous and consistent instructional practices.  It includes enhancing classroom-based instruction across the school and for individual teachers…

Student-Specific Supports and Instructions to All students… using data to identify specific academic and non-academic needs. There are on-going assessments to frequently and continually assess instructional effectiveness and to identify students’ individual academic needs.

School Climate and Cultures… this will provide a safe, orderly and respectful environment for students and a collegial, collaborative, and professional culture among teachers that supports the school’s focus on increasing student achievement.  In addition, family engagement and student achievement are all part of this plan.

School districts such as Worcester have increased their effectiveness for learning by improving their interpretation and the use of data.   Goals have been implemented, new professional learning has taken place for staff, and changes within the buildings have evolved.  Most importantly, more family engagement has been a benchmark of the district.  The bottom line is that the measures taken have improved student learning.

However, as I stated at the beginning, when one looks at test scores, one should keep in mind that this is a snapshot and not necessarily indicative of a student’s overall abilities.  Thus, for parents, it’s important for them to remain engaged with the school and teachers for teacher assessment and class grades are still considered the best indicators of students’ performance.

 

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