Notes from text
Boudett, City, Murnane
Chapter 4: Digging Into Data
Without an investigation of the data, schools risk misdiagnosing the problem.
There are two main steps when using data to identify the learner-centered problem in your school: looking carefully at a single data source and digging into other data sources.
The first thing to consider is, What questions do you have about the student learning problem, and what data will help answer those questions?
The next consideration is context: What data will be most compelling for the faculty?
Understanding how students arrived at a wrong answer or a poor result is important in knowing how to help them learn to get to the right answer or a good result.
Challenging assumptions is critical for three reasons:
1. Assumptions obscure clear understanding by taking the place of evidence
2. Teachers have to believe that students are capable of more than what the data shows
3. Solutions will require change
Starting with data and grounding the conversation in evidence from the data keeps the discussion focused on what we see rather than what we believe.
By triangulating your findings from multiple data sources- that is, by analyzing other data to illuminate, confirm, or dispute what you learned through your initial analysis- you will be able to identify your problem with more accuracy and specificity.
Students are an important and underused source of insight into their own thinking, and having focus groups with students to talk about their thinking can have a positive impact on your efforts to identify a problem underlying low student performance.
While you refine your definition of the learner-centered problem, you also build a common understanding among teachers of the knowledge and skills students need to have- in other words, what you expect students to know and be able to do, and how well they are meeting your expectations.
Guiding questions to identify a learner-centered problem:
Do you have more than a superficial understanding of the reasons behind students' areas of low performance?
Is there logic- based on the data you have examined- in how and why you've arrived at the specific problem identified?
Is your understanding of the problem supported by multiple sources of data?
Did you learn anything new in examining the data?
Do you all define the problem in the same way?
Is the problem specifically focused on knowledge and skills you want students to have?
If you solve this problem, will it help you meet your larger goals for students?