Chapter 1 - General Overview
Every great educator strives to really “know” his or her students—their academic strengths and areas for growth, as well as their educational goals and personal circumstances. However, sometimes the day-to-day responsibilities can cause even the best educators to miss signs or changes in the performance and behavior of their students, especially when they are trying to keep up with increasing class sizes and significant mobility. Truly knowing a student’s and a school’s needs requires educators to have timely, actionable, relevant measures of student performance (“metrics”), tailored to the educator’s role, at their fingertips. There is no shortage of data in education. The key is identifying what information is needed, when and by whom, and delivering it in an easily understood way. Making such information readily available to educators allows them to monitor student performance, see warning signs as well as growth opportunities early, and intervene appropriately to ensure each and every student avoids failure and reaches his or her full potential.
Educating students is a dynamic process. For most students, formal education begins in Pre-kindergarten and culminates either with a High School or College Graduation. As a student progresses or changes, so do their needs; the same is true for the performance metrics that tell their educational story. For example, reading readiness is imperative for an educator of young children while Algebra I performance is more relevant for a secondary educator. In addition, the responsibilities of a teacher, campus leader and district leader are different, and so are their information needs. The classroom teacher needs extremely granular student data, such as individual grades or standardized test scores, to monitor each student’s progress. The campus-level educator needs access to the same data plus high-level information on the aggregated performance of students in order to understand campus performance and trends. The superintendent needs even higher-level data across multiple campuses to get a picture of the relative strengths and challenges of campuses within a district.
Changing education begins with one student and one educator in one classroom. Therefore, the metrics in this book begin at the student level targeting that important relationship. Although intervention begins with the classroom teacher, it does not end there. There should be intervention all the way up through the Superintendent. Accordingly, classroom, campus and district level metrics are layered in to ensure the student is supported through all levels of the educational system.
The metrics included in this book are those that elementary and secondary teachers have indicated are most useful to knowing what a student’s strengths and areas for improvement are, based on where they are in their education, and those that campus leaders and district leaders have indicated are critical to performing their responsibilities. In addition, these metrics have been validated by reviews of best practices by other states and districts, as well as research studies that have identified the metrics or leading indicators that will help educators predict a student’s future likelihood of success based on their current performance.
Educators currently have access to most of the data that comprises these metrics; however, the data is spread throughout multiple systems and is not displayed in a user friendly way. Just as students learn differently, so do educators. An interface with these metrics must cater to multiple learning styles in order to be read quickly and easily like the dashboard of a car. Because displaying every metric about a particular student or campus on one page would be unrealistic and unruly, metrics must be organized into intuitive themes in an easily digestible way. Thus, busy educators can spend a short amount of time in one interface, and come away with actionable data. Actionable data looks different for the classroom teacher than it does for the campus leader. Therefore the interface should have different pages or dashboards tailored to the needs of each role.
The Education Insight Dashboards are being developed by the Delaware Department of Education. Design concepts initially developed by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for the Texas Student Data System (TSDS) acted as a framework, with research, stakeholder feedback, and individual tailoring for the state of Delaware providing the basis for the series of Dashboard pages. Educators across the state of Delaware were asked to provide feedback at various stages of development resulting in the creation of a user friendly tool that addresses the needs of all educators. This system of dashboards allows educators to monitor student performance, see warning signs as well as growth opportunities early, and intervene appropriately, thus ensuring each and every student avoids failure and reaches his or her full potential.
The Campus Profile Summary Snapshot displays the FERPA complaint dashboard, automatically generates intervention statements needing attention and high level categorized metric status information.