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1 Data, Decisions, and the Principal in the Middle

Edie Holcomb Solution Tree Press ePub

Data-based decision making is an essential part of principalship. The phrase “data for decision making” has been used so often in discussions of school improvement efforts that it has nearly become a meaningless mantra. The good news is that people no longer argue about whether you should use data. Effective use of data has been repeatedly tied to successful efforts to increase levels of student achievement. More data are available to support principals’ and teachers’ efforts to improve student achievement, and educators have become more sophisticated in their use of data. The increased emphasis on data use has prompted more training and heightened educators’ awareness of how data can be used to help diagnose problems and identify possible solutions. Many schools have experienced an increase in the use of data, the types of data used, and the number of ways in which data are used.

The bad news is that schools sometimes use the wrong data in the wrong ways while neglecting other vital and useful information. The danger is a tendency to generate data for the sake of having more data, without creating the context in which those data will become useful information.

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Chapter 3 - The Need for a New Scale

Marzano, Robert J. Marzano Research ePub

As described in chapter 2, a defining characteristic of the process of formative assessment is that it uses formative scores to track student progress over time, leading to an estimate of a summative score. It makes intuitive sense that formative scores for a given topic would gradually increase over time—as students learn more about a topic, their scores go up. To illustrate, assume that formative scores are being collected for the topic of balancing equations in a middle school classroom. In the beginning, those formative scores would probably be relatively low, since many or most students have not had much experience solving algebraic equations of the form: 4 · x = 48. However, as time progresses, scores would likely improve. For example, on the first assessment, a student receives a score of 50. On the next assessment, the student receives a score of 60, and so on, until the final assessment of the unit produces a formative score of 74.

From this example, designing assessments that produce formative scores appears to be fairly straightforward. All a teacher has to do is design assessments, score them, and then keep track of students' scores during the time instruction is occurring. Unfortunately, there are some easy traps to fall into that can render the formative scores collected meaningless. One of the biggest traps is the improper use of the 100-point scale.

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Dixon, Juli K. Solution Tree Press ePub


Cognitive-Demand-Level Task-Analysis Guide

Source: Smith & Stein, 1998. Copyright 1998, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Used with permission.

Table B.1: Cognitive-Demand Levels of Mathematical Tasks

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Chapter 11: Leading the Way

Dunsworth, Mardale; Billings, Dawn Solution Tree Press PDF



Leading the Way

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carroll

Once a principal has become intrigued with the idea of an external school review, the next step is to discuss the concept with other members of the school leadership team and with the school staff as a whole.

Not every school is ready to invite outside eyes into the building to take a close look at how the staff goes about the business of transferring knowledge. Involving others in the decision-making process begins the modeling of collaborative strategies that research has identified as effective in school improvement.

Assessing Readiness

Three sets of questions can help principals evaluate their schools’ readiness to benefit from a review.

First, principals should ask themselves the following questions:

• What about a school review do I find intriguing?

• What advantages would it offer me in leading for improvement?

• How receptive am I to coaching?

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Chapter 1: Introduction: The SMART Goals Process

Anne Conzemius Solution Tree Press ePub

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carroll
From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2002, p. 53)

Think back to a time when you made a significant change in your life. Perhaps you were dissatisfied with your career or job, and so you pursued more education, a new position, or a different work setting. If you wanted to master a new hobby or sport, you may have enrolled in classes, joined a team, or sought personal coaching. Maybe you were unhappy about your weight, so you started a weight-loss program. Regardless of whether you were pursuing a dream of something better because you were unhappy or because you simply wanted something different, you probably set some goals toward accomplishing that dream and pursued those goals with passion, rigor, and perhaps even specificity: “I’ll get a master’s degree in educational psychology within 2 years,” “I will be able to kayak grade-3 rapids by the time I’m 40,” or “I’m going to lose 15 pounds by the end of the year.”

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