Closing the Gap

How do districts bridge the divide between the huge amount of data on student performance and the teachers who actively use that data to make instructional decisions?  That is the question addressed in Closing the Gap.  Most teachers face the daunting task of going to multiple data sources, their grade book, the student information system, the cumulative file, special education file, response to intervention file, discipline and health files, and possibly the learning management system, to find information on their students.  Nicole Catapano, a predictive analyst and solutions architect for IBM, sums up the challenge this way:  “Time is precious, resources are few.  So how do you maximize the time and get the most efficient information in the hands of the teachers so they can do something with it as soon as possible?”  (Schaffauser, 2012, p. 6)   Districts that have been successful in getting teachers to use their data systems involve them in the process early on and provide ongoing professional development.  Also, the data housed in the data system needs to be more than standardized test scores.  Data systems need to have user-friendly means to include and analyze formative data that is closely tied to instruction.  Fairfax County Public Schools in Virgina is a story about a successful cultural shift to using data to inform instruction.  Their FCPS 24-7 initiative includes an eCART (Electronic Curriculum Assessment Resource Tool) that provides an integrated system with a single sign on for online curriculum, resources and formative assessment tools.  Not surprisingly, the eCART rolled out as an instructional, rather than a technology initiative.

Schaffhauser, D. (2012). Closing the gap. T.H.E. Journal, 39(9), 10–16.

FCPS 24-7 Video – http://www.turningdataintoaction.org/

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