Friday, January 22, 2016

Thinking about Data in the OCDSB

I'm currently involved in a really interesting project with other coaches at the OCDSB to help improve the OSSLT achievement of students in Applied courses. We began the project with a focused vision of examining student data, and developing a co-created lesson through a Lesson Study model, with the goal of seeing improvement in student outcomes using high yield instructional strategies and moderated marking.
We named of our project LAMP: Literacy Achievement through Moderation in Applied Courses.
The group of teacher and administrator participants is intentionally cross-curricular and the goal is to target one specific task on the OSSLT used in a co-created lesson study with moderation of criteria evident in student work. Our timelines are tight, but the intentional examination of data is fostering some wonderful discussions.

This week, I visited Merivale High School and we looked at a range of student data, creating Learner Profiles for students in Grade 10 Applied courses. We used past achievement, attendance, and anecdotal information as we tried to build in multiple measures of data. It was great working with such interested and enthusiastic teachers who are clearly interested in the success of each and every student.

I left thinking of an article about Dr. Bernhardt on the EQAO website and a couple of ideas struck me as important.

The article says, "It is vital to know where we are, as opposed to where we think we are." I reflected on this and considered the reading of data. Data is factual, but interpretation of the data can be varied. For example, the letter "A" is the letter "A" - that is fact. But, interpretation of "A" may lead a reader to different conclusions; it might be a part of speech (an article), it might be the first item in a list, or a grade in a course, or the symbolic hesitation in a conversation or dialogue. How we read and interpret that letter "A" says something about us, the audience, and the context of our understanding.

But, what is student data?

I must admit that in my early years of teaching, I was somewhat mystified by data and I don't think that I used it purposefully. Bar charts and pie graphs without a narrative left me cold and unmoved, until I reminded myself that student achievement is my business and data is one part of purposeful decision making.

Another idea in the article stood out for me; "data-driven decision-making, instructional coherence and a shared vision for school improvement".

This makes a lot of sense, but I wonder how do we measure a "shared vision"?