Software for Hard Data: It Can Be Difficult to Transform the Mountains of Data School Leaders Are Faced with into Valuable Information. Quality School Portfolio Is a Free Software Program That Can Help Teachers and Administrators Analyze and Report Data, Set Goals and Maintain a Student Database
Eller, Benjamin, Lee, John, Leadership
Data-driven decision-making is on the national agenda for teachers and policy-makers alike. President Bush's No Child Left Behind reform calls for annual academic assessments, with results compared from year to year. No Child Left Behind also requires districts to report student assessment results to parents "disaggregated by race, gender, English language proficiency, disability and socio-economic status."
However, with so much data from the SAT-9, exit exams, class grades and other evaluations, it can be difficult to transform this data into valuable information. Few schools and districts have sufficient software to generate the reports that would allow school leaders to examine and make conclusions based on such data, and with limited funds they may not be able to afford new software.
However, it is becoming more and more imperative that all schools have the ability to disaggregate student data. For instance, starting in 2004, students in our state will be required to pass the High School Exit Exam to graduate. As educators, how can we look at student data to help instruct and guide our students to pass such exams? Once our students take these exams and we have access to the results, what next?
One answer to these questions is the Quality School Portfolio, a free program that is being used in thousands of schools in 48 states. QSP was developed by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA, which is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
CRESST understands the importance of data, accountability and setting high standards for all schools. CRESST also understands how difficult it can be for districts and schools to analyze student data to be used to improve student learning.
Quality School Portfolio software has two main components -- the Data Manager and the Resource Kit.
The Data Manager provides a way for the school to import traditional data from various sources. Our newest version (2.0) allows for the importing of different types of data, using a pre-designed, question-driven interface to build "one-click" reports and complete integration with state assessment systems and standards. The user can disaggregate as well as aggregate data to allow for multiple levels of analysis and the ability to report to different audiences with the appropriate information.
The Resource Kit allows schools to conduct surveys and interviews, use observation protocols and administer questionnaires to gather data about school climate and instructional practices. Tools for probing aspects of safety and security, parental involvement, professional development, curriculum and instruction, technology and innovation and special programs are included, along with instructions for their use. …