This student projections post kicks off a series highlighting education leaders sharing the celebrations, and challenges, of using data to drive school improvement. These are real teachers, principals and superintendents working to foster academic growth for every student in their schools and districts. As we near the end of the first semester of school, I hope you find these stories inspiring, informative and helpful as we transition into the next phase of the school year. I’ll start with a focus on using predictive analytics.
A favorite part of my job is meeting and hearing from educational leaders in other states how they’ve been able to improve student outcomes. A recent trip to Pennsylvania provided insight into how one administrator has created a data culture in his school and used data as a school improvement resource.
Aaron Taylor is the principal at Waynesboro Middle School in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Mr. Taylor got his start as a learning support teacher in an elementary school and more recently won the Governor’s Award for his work as principal at an elementary school. A few years ago, Mr. Taylor’s superintendent asked him to lead a middle school that was struggling to raise student achievement. He was tasked with growing all students, a challenge he gladly accepted.
Mr. Taylor’s mission upon arriving at Waynesboro Middle School was to build a culture of data literacy and ensure data was used as a flashlight to guide decisions. An important piece of this plan was to use student projections to maximize academic opportunities for every student.
Student projection reports provide insight into a student’s potential in various courses. These reports project to academic milestones in select courses including state assessments and college readiness indicators such as Advanced Placement, ACT and SAT. Put simply, projection reports show the probability of a student’s likelihood of proficiency on a specific assessment. This information can be used to help with course placement, interventions and enrichment for students.
At the beginning of each school year, Mr. Taylor uses projections to optimize scheduling. “We want to ensure that every student in our school is placed in the best course to promote academic growth” noted Mr. Taylor. Predictive data provides an objective way for administrators to consider course placement that can potentially open college and career doors for students. This valuable information allows Mr. Taylor and other leaders at the school to place all students in the most appropriate, academically challenging course.
The use of projections did not stop with scheduling. By using projections throughout the school year, Mr. Taylor noted that the highest achieving students were not showing growth. He wanted to be sure every student, whether high or low achieving, were provided an opportunity in the school day to push themselves academically.
Mr. Taylor created the WIN (What I Need) in the school day. Without adding time to the school day, school leaders adjusted the schedule to accommodate an additional class period in the day. During this period, students received additional instruction for core subjects such as English Language Arts, Math and Science. Using projection data, teachers of WIN can provide more individualized instruction. For high achieving students, WIN is an opportunity for enrichment. For low achieving students, WIN provides remediation and intervention to support progress in the course. Projection data allows for WIN to foster progress for every student.
When asked if this had made a difference, Mr. Taylor replied “No doubt. We have hit a home run by helping all of our students make progress.” When growth data was shared with the school following the implementation of WIN, high achieving students showed growth for the first time in a few years.
Maya Angelo once said, “When we know better, we do better.” Projection data provides us valuable information on our students and allows educators an opportunity to enrich, intervene and remediate as needed. Predictive data helps school leaders to ensure that every student’s progress matters. How will you use this data?