Using Data to Focus Instructional Improvement

Using Data to Focus Instructional Improvement

Using Data to Focus Instructional Improvement

Using Data to Focus Instructional Improvement


Data. Does the word make you cringe? Does it evoke feelings of guilt? Are you unsure how to distill it and use it effectively?

Grab this book and learn how to empower yourself and your school community with information gleaned from your school's data. Experienced educators and authors offer simple instructions that can help focus school improvement efforts and result in increasing teacher expertise--a factor that positively affects the quality of life for students long after they have left the classroom. Accepting responsibility for such far-reaching influence requires educators to adopt instructional improvement as a standard by which a school needs to operate and as a means to collaborate and interact with one another. More than that, though, instructional improvement is an important component of successful schools. Learn how to improve instruction by

• Collecting the right data--the right way.

• Incorporating relevant data into everyone's daily life.

• Resisting the impulse to set brand-new goals every year.

• Never settling for "good enough."

• Anticipating changes--big and small, local and federal.

• Collaborating and avoiding privatized practice.

• Involving all stakeholders in identifying problems, setting goals, and analyzing data.

• Agreeing on what constitutes high-quality instruction and feedback.

The challenge is to understand that data--not intuition or anecdotal reports--are tools to be used in getting better at teaching students. And teaching students effectively is what schools are all about. Following the guidance in this book, overcome uncertainty and concerns about data as you learn to collect and analyze both soft and hard data and use their secrets for instructional improvement in your school.


How is it that some schools make progress and others do not? In other words, what do highly effective schools do that makes a difference? The answer is fairly obvious. Effective schools use information that is available to them to continuously improve. Those improvements might be related to the culture of the school, the cleanliness of the facility, or the instructional program. The data—information—focus the efforts of the staff members on areas of strength and need.

The problem is not that some schools have access to information and others do not. Schools are awash in information about most aspects of their operation. Some schools just choose to ignore the information that is available to them. Other schools take a look at the information, perhaps take the time to acknowledge the problem, and then do nothing further about it. And still other schools examine the data, develop an intervention plan, and then fail to implement or monitor the plan. This book examines schools that function differently—schools that make a difference by using information available to them to continuously improve, specifically in the area of instruction. Starting with the assumption that opportunities for improvement always exist, we must purposefully seek out errors, understand their causes and effects, and then fix them for continuous improvement to occur. In the parlance of computer programmers, this process is called debugging. As such, continuous assessment can be used by virtually any educational system to study and then improve the experiences and outcomes of the people who teach and learn there. We are not saying that continuous instructional improvement is easy; we are saying that it is worth the effort.

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