Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reflection on Data-Driven Teaching

Taking this job in Atlanta, GA, I was given an opportunity to teach English Learners...without any certification, training, or assistance. I knew that if I used effective, best practices, I could reach students and create a rapport that was conducive to learning. However, could I impact their learning? Could I help students pass their state standardized test to advance to high school? Would individual growth be enough or would the bar...the percentage needed to the only way to assess success?

It is March and we are 15 days away from the state test. Are the students ready? No....only 69% are in English Language Arts (ELA) and 61% in Reading.

How do I know?

The district requires teachers to give common assessments every two weeks on the same day. We all can see our scores and know how each individual student did and what questions they missed related to the standard. Then, at the end of every unit, students take a benchmark to see how many were proficient at the end of the unit.

The success of the scores are not in the 69% or 61%, but the fact that students moved from 9% to 27% to the 69% and 61%. Growth rates of 60% and 34% are something I celebrated with the students. I wanted them to be so proud of their efforts, so we discuss their scores often and I help the students track their progress. We watch their writing grow and see their understandings of literature, poetry, non-fiction, and progress in reading comprehension improve.

I have seen the benefit of data-driven conversations. It helps me rework lessons and reteach skills that many missed. I could give extra help to students and push students that already exhibit the skills needed for the unit benchmark.