Last week, I had lunch with a friend who I hadn’t seen in quite some time. As I approached the table, I noticed my friend busily writing away in her journal. With a fantastic smile, my friend shared that she was writing down her personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. For her, along with many others, setting goals and working toward them helps her in being proactive as she welcomes 2015.
Sometimes we often remark, “If I had only known, I could have done things differently.” As I drove home, I caught myself setting my goals for 2015 based on my reflections of the past two years rather than future possibilities.
What if we were able to set goals for our students knowing more than just what is said by other teachers? What if we truly had an educator’s crystal ball to predict the best way to meet students where they are and get them to where they need to be?
In many states and districts across the nation, educational leaders and teachers now have the ability to see how their students are projected to score on both end of course assessments, as well as college readiness indicators. By applying predictive analytics, that data reveals the potential of students, along with their possible challenges, that will allow data-driven educators to better prepare their students for success.
When educators today design lessons, plan interventions, or foster growth opportunities and enrichment for their students they are no longer dealing with guesswork. They are dealing in actual goal setting. Educators can see where students may need additional help, and where they can succeed. Teachers are now setting real, tangible, individualized goals for their students.
With that in mind, I had in-depth conversations with two educators: an assistant principal from Pennsylvania and an instructional coach from North Carolina.
Corey Mosher, Assistant Principal of Athens High in Athens Area School District in Pennsylvania, notes that using student projection data in PVAAS was a game changer for his school. “I love PVAAS projection data,” shared Mosher in our conversation. Mosher led his faculty in becoming more aware of and comfortable with using data for school improvement. By using projection data, Mosher shared that Athens High is “using the projections data to ensure students are enrolled in the best courses.” Furthermore, he notes “projection data ensures that teachers have the best data available to hone in individual instruction offering early, targeted interventions.” Using student projection data has allowed for Athens High to improve student outcomes by ensuring proper course placement and early, effective remediation for students.
Dr. Theresa Melenas is an instructional coach and assistant principal for Sampson County Schools in North Carolina. She continues to work with teachers throughout the district on using student projection data. In addition to increasing the number of students enrolled in more rigorous math courses, she continues to work with teachers and school leaders to use projections to provide earlier interventions for students. “If we know a student shows an interest in a STEM field, we can use student projection data as early as middle school to provide them proper support for success in higher level mathematics courses.”
Both of these educators used student projections to better plan individualized instruction that ultimately improved student outcomes. As educators, we don’t have to guess anymore. We don’t have to base all of our instructional decisions on the information that is given to us after it has been filtered through a former teacher’s opinion. We can harness the power of authentic assessments, the power of technology, and the power of predictive analytics to actually steer and personalize the instruction of every student.
As I looked through the windshield on my way home, I was excited about what that means for every student in every school. An education that is built exactly for the needs of each student. And I am thrilled to see what 2015 has to offer.