Academic journal article Catholic Education

Using Data-Informed Instruction to Drive Education: Keeping Catholic Education a Viable and Educationally Sound Option in Challenging Times

Academic journal article Catholic Education

Using Data-Informed Instruction to Drive Education: Keeping Catholic Education a Viable and Educationally Sound Option in Challenging Times

Article excerpt

In a time when parents are presented with many elementary and secondary schooling options, public and private schools often find themselves in a heated competition to attract and keep students. Parents choosing between educational options often consider a multitude of criteria before choosing an appropriate setting including the school's religious foundations, cost, and proximity to the family residence. More and more, however, new metrics have become part of this parental decision. With the desire to improve education across the United States, the No Child Left Behind act (NCLB, 2002) required a greater transparency in the reporting of academic achievement data than was previously required of pubic schools. While private, non-government funded, faith-based institutions were not required to commit to the same level of transparency, they often felt the need to do so in order to keep up with the information demands of parents considering the private schools as educational options for their child.

Teachers in Catholic schools are not immune from pressures to improve students' scores on high stakes tests and standards-based education is not new to Catholic schools. Nationally, many public school systems have moved to implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or other similar standards. Assessment, in turn, has been tied to these standards. In many states, Catholic schools have the option as to whether to implement accepted state standards or to create standards of their own. The Committee on Catholic Education (CCE) gives each bishop the authority to lead the CCSS discussion at the local level and to eventually make a decision based on what is best for each individual diocese (2014). Regardless of implementation of government mandates, students graduating from Catholic schools will ultimately be held to the same standards and outcome based measures when it comes to their graduates' ability to compete for post-secondary educational scholarships, national merits, and other accolades based in part on national standardized test scores.

The academic achievement data provided by public school systems allow parents and others to see if their students meet grade level standards. Catholic schools then, must provide such data if they wish to measure themselves against those enrolled in the competing public and private schooling options. Grades are no longer the sole measure of academic progress and do not suffice to provide an on-going measure of student achievement. Academic progress during the school year is a required measure of predicted summative achievement results. Therefore, data collection and analysis at the individual classroom and student levels during daily instruction is necessary to ensure competitive, school-wide scores will be achieved following any academic year.

Data collection and utilization requires that teachers collect information within both a formative and summative format from consistent assessment of their students. Unfortunately, teachers are often at a loss as to how to effectively collect and utilize data as a driving force within their educational assessment and planning routines (Marshall, 2009; Young & Kim, 2010). This is true within Catholic schools, as well as in competing private, public, and charter institutions. If Catholic schools are to remain a viable option in this ever-increasing competitive educational environment, teachers must become more comfortable collecting and analyzing data in an effort to help drive instruction and high levels of academic achievement.

The collection of data to drive instruction is often referred to as datain-formed instruction (DII). Marsh, Pane, and Hamilton (2006) define DII as the practice of teachers and administrators systematically collecting and analyzing a variety of data to guide instructional decisions and advance the performance of students and schools. The premise behind DII is to imbed data collection into daily classroom routines, use the data to make any necessary instructional plans or modifications, and to continuously monitor student performance to predict academic gains. …

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