Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Putting a Face on Data

Deb Liechty displays data boards she has created for Echo Hill teachers and staff.

Over the last five years our district has invested time and money training staff in understanding the PLC process.  Part of the idea of that program is to have teachers work in teams discussing, sharing, and analyzing data from students in their classrooms.  This is a process that requires teachers to be vulnerable, honest, and trustworthy in the teams they work with.  If you want to see a school that rocks this process, head to Echo Hill Elementary.

In a recent visit, I had the privilege of visiting with Deb Liechty, Reading teacher and program leader of the MTSS committee at Echo Hill.  Deb meets two to three times a month with her MTSS committee comprised of:  Instructional Strategist, Laura Robertson; Principal, Dan Ludwig, and Guidance Counselor, Deb Bundy.  During their meetings they explored the idea of creating data boards early in the school year.  Deb Liechty led the charge and visited Wilkins Elementary, also in the Linn-Mar School District, to look at some sample data boards.

Sample Data Boards

This collaboration sparked some ideas of how to create school wide data boards at Echo Hill.   It has taken time, organization, and planning, but Deb and her team are pleased with the results.

Where are these Data Boards used?

At Echo Hill, they have School –Wide PLC twice a month.  The whole staff heads to the building library and assembles into their grade level PLC groups.  During this time they look at data and then use the data boards to see how all students are progressing.  They have student pictures and names on the data so they know that they are dealing with more than numbers.  It was important to the whole team to remember that students are more than a number. 

By using the data boards, teachers know and can discuss which students are in the proficiency range and which students need more support.  They are having powerful conversations.  Each grade level is responsible for logging information on an index card in regards to the data, and how students are performing.  Some PLC teams are using reading data, some math, and some both. The teams discuss a variety of assessments such as FAST scores, Fountas and Pinnell, Guiding Reading Classroom data, NWEA, and other formative math assessments. The beauty of it is that the conversations are fluid and meaningful.  The conversations apply specifically to the students at each grade level.  For example, Deb Liechty works with kindergarten teachers during PLC.  She is part of the conversations and is really excited about the conversations she is hearing teachers have about data, instruction, and student performance.  It’s a work in progress, but a powerful one.

Cards are attached to the back of data boards, for teachers to record on-going data and progress students are making at each grade level

Another role of the MTSS team is to discuss Intervention Block known as EXCEL Time.  This happens building wide 4 days a week at Echo Hill.  Teachers work with students on areas they need extra help with or areas they need enrichment in.  Because part of the PLC process is celebrating success, Echo Hill holds monthly celebrations from 3:00-3:30.  These celebrations happen twice a month:  once for Blended-2nd grade, and once for 3rd-5th grade.  This celebration is held in the gym and Principal Ludwig, and other personnel arrange the event.  During this time teachers use the time to plan their intervention block.  This gift helps teachers maximize planning time. 

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