Paxton-Buckley-Loda (PBL) CUSD 10 is a K12 district with approximately 1,350 students enrolled. To monitor student growth, the district utilizes a variety of different assessments, including NWEA MAP, PARCC/IAR and the SAT suite. However, the district could only measure their students’ performance on these assessments against national and state results. As a consequence, PBL CUSD 10 lacked the means to track both the progress of their own students over time and the impact of their curriculum-based interventions. In an interview conducted by Dr. Richard Voltz for the IASA podcast network, the District’s Director of Curriculum Instruction, Tara Tighe-Chandler, discussed how PBL CUSD 10 tackled this challenge.
PBL CUSD 10 sought a platform that would allow them to compare their student data against both national, state, and local norms.
To realize their analytic goals, PBL CUSD 10 partnered with ECRA Group to provide consulting and professional development, along with its ECRISS school intelligence platform. One of the apps offered by ECRA as part of this collaboration is the My Students app, which helps facilitate the kind of analysis that the district sought.
Using the My Students app, the district was able to aggregate the performance scores from their myriad assessments into a single, unified growth score. With this score, they can now track student achievement against local norms, providing a clear indicator of instructional effectiveness. According to Tighe-Chandler, this specificity has already had an impact on classrooms.
“We’ve really had a focus on using the formative data as well as the summative data to guide our instruction,” Tighe-Chandler said.
Once several years of SAT data were uploaded into the My Students app, the district discovered that students were performing significantly better on mathematics than on English language arts. To address this, district leaders convened to uncover the cause. One factor that they found was that high school ELA standards are written in grade bands (i.e. 9th-10th, 11th-12th) without making clear which standards were supposed to be reached by which grade. To address this, Tighe-Chandler said, the district reevaluated their ELA curriculum, ensuring that there weren’t any gaps or redundancies within each grade.
“We’ve really had a focus
on using the formative data
as well as the summative data
to guide our instruction.”
The My Students app enables educators to intervene on behalf of individual students more proactively. If there’s a student that the school is concerned about, Tighe-Chandler says, teachers can bring the data to meetings with the relevant personnel, be they school psychologists, special education staff, social workers or administrators. Because the My Students app enables the tracking of individual student growth on a much more personalized level, educators are able to better serve students. Tighe-Chandler said that the district’s new approach will be able to identify students who may be performing satisfactorily on assessments but aren’t growing at a rate typical to the district.
Beyond aiding curriculum management and student interventions, PBL CUSD 10’s approach toward data has aided their professional development efforts. Because growth and expected growth can now be tracked at the local level, this metric is also tied to teacher evaluations. Additionally, the increased emphasis on data in the curriculum has spurred the district to offer more professional development options around this technology.
Ultimately, as educators become more comfortable with data, they’ll be more effective at using it to drive their curriculum planning. Data, after all, is just one of many tools that a district can use; its effectiveness depends on how well schools can organize and analyze the information it collects. “Data can tell us what happened but it can’t tell us why it happened,” Tighe-Chandler said.
ECRA partners with schools to develop an evidence-based framework that supports your efforts in school improvement and measures the return on investment of programs and initiatives.
ECRA Group is an approved IL-Empower professional learning partner. Should you have any questions regarding how ECRA Group can assist your school or district through the IL-Empower network, please email: IL-EMPOWER@ecragroup.com.