Principals who lead data dialogues will quickly see which staff dont fully understand or know how to examine student work, diagnose student strengths and weaknesses, know what good work looks like, know how to assess specific indicators, or know how to use the data to inform instruction.
Leadership teams from three elementary schools share below what they learned about staff development needs from their process of monitoring student progress.
A Maryland Virtual High School of Science and Mathematics newsletter article entitled, Using Assessments to Refine Instruction) describes how teachers participating in the CoreModels Project learned how to identify instructional and staff needs when they examined student performance data on selected assessments. Among the lessons physics teachers learned about their own needs were the need to discuss the science rubric with their peers both in understanding how to apply the point descriptors as well as how to deal with the difficult to score responses.
Rick DuFour shared his experience in shifting the focus from what was being taught to what was being learned. In the process, he identified a number of staff development needs for teachers to collect and discuss the data that would focus them on what students were learning. In his article, The Learning-Centered Principal, he describes his role in the following way:
As principal, I played an important role in initiating, facilitating, and sustaining the process of shifting our collective focus from teaching to learning. To make collaborative teams the primary engine of our school improvement efforts, teachers needed time to collaborate. Teachers, accustomed to working in isolation, needed focus and parameters as they transitioned to working in teams. They needed a process to follow and guiding questions to pursue. They needed training, resources, and support to overcome difficulties they encountered while developing common outcomes, writing common assessments, and analyzing student achievement data. They needed access to relevant, timely information on their students performance. They needed help writing specific and measurable team improvement goals that focused on student learning rather than on their team activities. They needed encouragement, recognition, and celebration as they progressed. They needed someone to confront those individuals or teams of teachers who failed to fulfill their responsibilities.