Best Practice Links
Middle School Themes
Theme - Monitoring: Compilation, Analysis, and Use of Data
- Frequent and multiple assessments of performance analyzed and shared by/with students, teachers, administrators, and parents.
In higher-performing schools, administrators and teachers analyze data from frequent district-wide formative assessments aligned with state tests in core subject areas, district-wide final exams, as well as state assessments, for progress by student, teacher, and school. Resources from outside the district are frequently used for data warehousing services. Sequencing of content is aligned with the state assessment schedule rather than the school year schedule to increase student preparedness for the assessments. Teachers have opportunities to learn how to analyze assessment data reports to inform instruction. Diagnostic tests in math and ELA inform allocation of services and instructional strategies for all students. Monitoring student and school performance is part of the ethos of the district
School administrators set their performance goals based on district-wide goals and are evaluated yearly on those goals. Administrators give teachers feedback on their performance from formal and informal observations, teacher portfolios, and student assessment data. School administrators and teachers provide frequent feedback on performance to parents and students via reports, phone calls, and on-line grading and access to assignments.
Throughout the school year teachers administer diagnostic, district benchmark, informal, and formal assessments and analyze homework, classwork, and their own assessments for patterns of strengths and weaknesses in student performance, sometimes with the assistance of computer software programs that display levels of mastery. They ensure that students are familiar with the formats of the state assessments.
Some differences between higher- and average-performing schools
Educators in higher-performing schools make more consistent and frequent use of district-wide benchmark tests in core subject areas, whereas average-performing schools benchmark once or twice a year, typically only in ELA, and tend to rely more on individual teacher-developed assessments.
State-assessment-like tasks, questions, and vocabulary are integrated into the higher performers’ benchmarks and other assessments consistently throughout the school year, whereas average-performing schools use state test-like assessments as pre-tests at the beginning of the year or as preparation close to the time students will take state assessments. Frequent contact with students and parents regarding student performance that go beyond five-week reports to include weekly reports on request, phone calls, on-line access to assignments and grades, and student and parent conferences is typical in higher-performing schools.
In higher-performing schools, administrators and teachers use computer software programs to analyze and display student performance data for patterns of strengths and weaknesses to inform practice, while in average-performing schools data are analyzed by and shared with teachers less frequently. Diagnostic tests in math and ELA are given to all students to inform the allocation of resources, while in average-performing schools diagnostic tests are typically given only in ELA and to students identified for interventions.
Administrators and teachers in the higher performers are provided with feedback on their performance based on goals connected to district goals. Student performance data, observations, portfolios of products, and self-reflections constitute some of the data used to monitor teacher performance, while in average-performing schools, focus is primarily on a few formal observations for untenured faculty, with little focus on connecting with district-level goals.
In Binghamton, data from district and state assessments forge the foundation for all decision-making.
At Niagara, data analysts provide summaries to help teachers improve instruction where needed.
Teachers at Queensbury Middle School meet in departments and analyze the school's test data to inform instruction. Instructional leaders use a rubric to observe and provide detailed reports to teachers.