Magazine article Technology & Learning

A New Kind of Coach: In an Age of Accountability, Here's How One District Has Recruited Staff to Become Student Information Gurus. (Data-Driven Decision Making)

Magazine article Technology & Learning

A New Kind of Coach: In an Age of Accountability, Here's How One District Has Recruited Staff to Become Student Information Gurus. (Data-Driven Decision Making)

Article excerpt

Mr. Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Woodland Elementary, sits at the back of his classroom, reviewing last year's state test scores for his current students. Sally scored a Level 2 in reading, placing her in the 40th percentile. He's surprised she didn't score much higher because she performs at the top of his class. This child is a mystery to him.

The above scenario is a familiar one to many educators, and one of several being used in a new online professional development course developed by the Santa Rosa County School District in Florida. The four-week class, Closing the Loop, is one component of what may be a new trend in the burgeoning area of data-driven decision making: data coaching.

"Data coaches" are staff members who are student information experts. Coaches are trained in several areas:

* Understanding key assessment concepts and terminology (for instance, the difference between criterion- and norm-referenced tests);

* Knowing how to use special data mining software tools that allow them to explore key information such as the academic performance of specific sub-groups of students; and

* Learning techniques for interpreting data correctly.

For example, in the case of the fictitious Mr. Williams, he collected information about Sally such as test scores, health records, and interviews with other teachers. As a result, he discovered that Sally performs better on multiple-choice tests than on open-ended "show your work" tests, and he also learned that she has a seizure disorder that may be affecting her academic performance. …

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