Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 11
said Andrew Krumm, the director of learning analytics at Digital Promise, a nonprofit that promotes the use of technology to improve schools.
Too often, Krumm and other proponents of
continuous improvement say, schools get caught
in a cycle in which administrators and policymakers identify a problem; develop a program or
intervention to address that problem; roll it out;
and try to determine whether or not it worked.
The data used to measure success is typically a
long-term outcome measure, such as standardized test results. If scores go up, administrators
try to scale the program across other schools and
districts-often with little consideration for why
the program worked, or how conditions on the
ground in other schools and districts might vary.
then helping the people closest to the problem-
usually teachers, principals, and other school
staff-to develop measures of day-to-day progress that are aligned to that theory. Technology
tools should help schools monitor three things:
whether they're actually doing what they set out
to do, whether it's making a difference on the
measures that educators developed locally, and
how such efforts impact the kinds of long-term
outcomes measures that are typically used now.
"The most interesting work happens when
schools supplement system-wide data with finergrained, day-in-and-day-out data," Krumm said
in an interview."We need to be collecting data
that is much closer to what we're actually trying
Tracking Daily Decisions
We need to be
collecting data that
is much closer to
what we're actually
trying to change."
Data Researcher, Digital Promise
That approach amounts to "implementing fast
and learning slow," Gomez and his co-authors
from the Carnegie Institute for the Advancement of Teaching argue in their 2015 book.
Instead, they argue, schools should be focused
on the reverse: implementing improvement
strategies more methodically, but learning much
more about them as they happen.
Ideally, they say, such a process would entail
identifying the problem schools want to fix; developing a theory about how to improve it; and
That's generally the approach that New Visions for Public Schools is trying to take with the
custom educational software it's building.
The nonprofit currently provides its data tools
to 342 schools in New York City, including 10
charter schools that it directly operates and several dozen district schools for which the group
serves as a "comprehensive lead partner."
The focus is on closely tracking the seemingly
mundane decisions that principals, assistant
principals, teachers, and guidance counselors
have to make each day, then getting them the
information they need to make those decisions.
Graduation planning is one big example. Additional functions aim to help counselors match
students to internships and other opportunities
in the most efficient way possible, or to help administrators track student attendance and participation in after-school activities.
"I think we've historically underestimated the
complexity of work in schools, where there is a
tremendous volume of decisions that need to be
made, and the outcomes are often determined by
our ability to be consistent," Dunetz said."If you
don't know whether a classroom had the right superintendent for evaluation and assessment.
textbooks, or whether the computers worked, or
That system took a while to build, Oakeley
if kids showed up, it's very difficult to draw any said. Some schools used it more than others.
conclusions about whether what you're doing is
And then the grant ran out, the superintenworking, and why."
dent left, and budget cuts hit.
Notably, though, Dunetz said New Visions
"The platform went by the wayside," she said.
determined it had to build that kind
"When there are switches in adminof software from scratch. Very few
istration, some work gets lost in the
software applications allow schools TINKERING
real flexibility to decide what data TOWARD
Fortunately, Oakeley said, all was
are most important to them, then IMPROVEMENT not lost. The district had also built a
collect and analyze that information ABOUT THIS
supplemental data system to allow
school staff to also examine other relSERIES: How can
In theory, at least, the new tech- districts move
evant information, such as students'
nologies that have flooded into from the constant
grades in core subject areas. Districtschools over the past decade could churn of new
level staff still use that system to
help. Countless digital tools are now school reform
monitor how many students are on
part of students' everyday learning, initiatives to
track for graduation at the end of
and many are capable of generating sustained growth
9th grade. And former superintenfor students in very
reams of data on everything that a different contexts?
dent Michael Hinojosa, who led the
student (or teacher) does.
original push for an early-warning
In this periodic
But much of that software still series, we look at
system in Dallas before moving on, is
serves accountability purposes, the pros, cons, and now back leading the district, bringKrumm said. The experience of the evolution of
ing renewed attention to efforts to
157,000-student Dallas school sys- "continuous
get school-level staff to use the infortem highlights the challenges on the improvement"
ground to building new data systems in education.
But for now, at least, that's still a
to support continuous improvement
far cry from the type of continuouswork.
improvement data systems that proBack in 2009, the Gates Foundation gave the ponents envision.
Dallas district a three-year, $3.8 million grant
"This is a process," said Gomez of UCLA.
to strengthen its "college readiness warning sys- "People are coming to understand that all these
tem," modeled after Chicago's efforts. The aim [data systems we have now] were not created
was to help teachers use data, pulled primar- with improvement in mind. This is a first and
ily from existing student-information systems, important step."
to "identify student needs, provide appropriate
interventions, and ultimately increase college Coverage of continuous improvement strategies
in education is supported in part by a grant from
The tool the district developed was "a dash- the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at www.
board pulling up live data" on such indicators as gatesfoundation.org. Education Week retains sole
student attendance and access to financial-aid editorial control over the content of this coverage.
counseling, said Cecilia Oakeley, who started
with the district in 2005 and is now an assistant
-Using Early Warning-Indicators
-To Support Every StudentJoin Panorama Education to hear from
experts and practitioners about the
ways schools are using early warning
indicators to address core challenges
like reducing chronic absenteeism and
disproportionate discipline, as well
as planning tiered interventions and
promoting college/career readiness.
* ROBERT BALFANZ, professor, Center for the
Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins
University; director, Everyone Graduates
* DREW ECHELSON, superintendent, Waltham
public schools, Waltham, Mass.
* ELIZABETH HOMAN, administrator of
educational technology integration, Waltham
public schools, Waltham, Mass.
* MIKE SABIN, principal, McDevitt Middle
School, Waltham, Mass.
* CHRISTINE STENSON, director of research and
evaluation, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Tenn.
* JACK MCDERMOTT, marketing director,
FREE WEBINAR: TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2018 / 2 TO 3 P.M. ET / www.edweek.org/go/webinar/EarlyWarningIndicators
EDUCATION WEEK | March 21, 2018 | www.edweek.org | 11
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 21, 2018
Education Week - March 21, 2018
A Teachable Moment For 2nd Amendment
Student Walkout Taps Well of Anger, Sadness
Sick of Low Pay, More Teachers Prepare to Fight
News in Brief
N.D. Districts Can Substitute ACT For State Test
Study: Don’t Use ACT, SAT to Gauge School Achievement
Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Schools
Educators and Finance Officers Team Up for Better Budgeting
Schools Struggle to Use Data To Get Better
Upcoming March Could Draw On Walkout’s Momentum
Walkout Takes Aim at Gun Violence
FACT SHEET: Students With Emotional Disabilities
Response to Shooting Begins to Take Shape
lorida Extends Private-School Vouchers to Bullied Students
Surprise W.Va. Teachers Strike Emboldens Activists Elsewhere
DeVos Still Challenged In Delivering Message
Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
MARY BETH TINKER: I Stand With the Students
FRANK LOMONTE: Student Privacy Laws Should Protect Students, Not School Officials
KIRSTEN BAESLER: Yes, Betsy DeVos, Our Schools Are Innovating
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
LAWRENCE BAINES & JIM MACHELL: The War on Teachers Comes to Oklahoma
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Sick of Low Pay, More Teachers Prepare to Fight
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 2
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Contents
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - News in Brief
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Report Roundup
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - N.D. Districts Can Substitute ACT For State Test
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Study: Don’t Use ACT, SAT to Gauge School Achievement
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Schools
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 9
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Schools Struggle to Use Data To Get Better
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 11
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Upcoming March Could Draw On Walkout’s Momentum
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Walkout Takes Aim at Gun Violence
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - FACT SHEET: Students With Emotional Disabilities
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 15
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 16
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 17
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - lorida Extends Private-School Vouchers to Bullied Students
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Surprise W.Va. Teachers Strike Emboldens Activists Elsewhere
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 21
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - FRANK LOMONTE: Student Privacy Laws Should Protect Students, Not School Officials
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - KIRSTEN BAESLER: Yes, Betsy DeVos, Our Schools Are Innovating
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 25
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 27
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - LAWRENCE BAINES & JIM MACHELL: The War on Teachers Comes to Oklahoma
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW4