Looking For Evidence

Winter 2008 | | March 6, 2008 at 10:20 am

How to look at data

 GEAR UP Evaluator Don Watson and Consultant Sheila Watson offered some ways to look at instructional program data for School Leadership Teams at the Institutes. Asking questions about data can be fun, but also those questions can raise some important instructional issues and cause emotional reactions. There is a need for outside observations to confirm evidence, i.e. educational practices and school culture. Examining data is a continuing process; the examination is never finished.

Each school self reports the GEAR UP School Survey information to the evaluator by March 1. From their initial baseline report and then each succeeding year, school Leadership Teams can see how many courses are designated as advanced by the school and how many students are on grade level. When looking at the number of students reported at or above grade level for a particular school, one team member noted, “About 200 students are being socially promoted at our school because they are not at grade level or above.” Another commented, “We need to know how we identify students being on grade level or above.”

The school teams also looked at their school’s data from the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests which indicate the proficiency level of students by subject area. The question was then asked, “How do these STAR scores compare to what the school is self reporting on the GEAR UP School Survey?” Sometimes there are discrepancies between the Survey data and the STAR data. By using the same criteria each year, comparisons can be made about the following:

  1. What % of the courses are advanced?
  2. What % of students are in advanced courses?
  3. What % of students are performing at grade level or above?
  4. What % of students are testing at proficient or above?

Through
periodic and thoughtful discussion of data, School Leadership Team
members identify “WHAT is the status of our instructional program?”
They then can consider the next step “SO WHAT? Is this situation OK?”
and then “NOW WHAT? Should we change something?”

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