Data Coaches Help SCSD Schools Improve Student Outcomes

     Published on 3/1/17   Tagged under:    District News    Academics    Danforth Magnet School    Dr King Elementary School    McKinley-Brighton Elementary School    Van Duyn Elementary School   

Among the entire SCSD, Danforth Middle School saw the most reductions in chronic absences and office referrals in the first half of the 2016-17 school year. Principal Gene Jones attributes these improvements largely to the school’s use of data to target at-risk students and implement early interventions.
“We’ve used data to see where we need to make improvements, where our challenges are and where our strengths are,” Mr. Jones explained. “We also use data to formulate strategies on how we can teach or reteach a unit. Our data trackers allow us to see the results—how we’ve improved—and also allows us to look collaboratively at core subjects and what we need to continue to improve upon.”
Danforth staff enjoy the use of a designated ‘Data Room,’ where they see on the wall a constant reminder of the school’s ten receivership indicators. As they analyze data and create a game plan for teachers and students, they plan how data can help them meet those indicators.
“So far, we’re going in the right direction,” Mr. Jones said. “And we’re just getting started! Ms. Brec, our Data Coach, has been a big help.”
Thanks to four Data Coaches, SCSD schools are taking a closer look at academic, behavioral and attendance data and are using it to guide teachers and administrators to use data to make data-driven decisions about instructional best practices. The Data Coaches meet with school administrators and staff to create plans for targeted interventions, create and deliver professional development for staff and more—all with the goal of improving student outcomes.

What does this look like in the classroom?
At Dr. King, one strategy staff tried after analyzing data was creating targeted interventions across all grade levels. Teachers worked with their data coach to analyze data and group students based on various assessments performance, including STAR. This allowed teachers to pair students with other peers at similar ability levels with similar academic challenges. This structure allowed teachers to more accurately meet students’ needs. As a result, the school’s first graders saw a 135 scaled score point increase in early literacy, and all grades second through fifth saw significant increases in reading scores. The school team continues to meet regularly to analyze data and adjust groupings to best meet the needs of all students.
“We are living a data-driven life at Dr. King,” Principal Andrea Ellis-Smith said. “I wanted our teachers to really gain a deeper understanding of what true differentiation looks like. It is truly a change in how we plan, how we teach and how we utilize data to inform our instruction and next steps. We utilize a scaffolded process for goal-setting, and every level feeds into the overall school wide goals.”
At McKinley-Brighton, similar steps are in place to help teachers discover where students need more support. There, the data team reviewed various assessment scores, looked for patterns and focused on specific skills that students were lacking. This allowed teachers to work collaboratively to create reteach plans in the areas where students needed more support.
“Our data coach has been instrumental,” Principal Renee Burgess said. “She’s trying to help the school analyze data and set next steps. From last year to now, our referral count has gone down by 297. Our data coach has worked closely with Vice Principal Patterson to revamp our template for student referrals and create professional development for staff on the referrals for behavior. She’s ultimately helping our students by working with our staff… we now have a solid stakeholder who is continuously providing and synthesizing data to put plans in place that are going to best meet the needs of our kids.”
Van Duyn Data Coach Karin Kirnie provided support for teachers to develop the VDES Data Dashboard, which is used to record New York State, ANet, STAR and Running Record data – as well as the VDES Data Tracker. She has also facilitated meetings with teachers to explain the data as it pertains to their instruction and grade-level targets.
“Our data-driven focus at Van Duyn has allowed us to see a variety of data on our dashboard in a systematic way,” Instructional Coach Maura Titus explained. “We use this data to make instructional decisions on an ongoing basis to meet the needs of our students. We’re able to set short term and long term goals that are aligned to our schoolwide goals. Overall, our teachers have become more intentional about how they use and interpret data to target instruction on a daily basis.”
No matter what the data analysis looks like in a building, data coaches said their ultimate goal is to increase the use of data in schools and ultimately, to help bring about student improvement.
“My overall goal is to improve student outcomes by supporting staff and building capacity around the use of data,” Ms. Brec explained. “This position has been incredibly empowering. I feel that I am making a tremendous difference in many ways. My favorite part of my job is seeing the light bulb go off – seeing staff who feel supported and empowered to better meet the needs of our children!”
Data coaches say they also hope to remove the anxiety that staff often associate with data, instead showing them the positive ways data can be used to help in the classroom and with student achievement. Thank you, Data Coaches, for supporting our teachers and staff as they help our students Go for the Gold!