Diving Deep to Build Assessment Literacy – Step 2 of the Data Wise Improvement Process – Day 2

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The focus of Day 2 of the Summer Institute is the work around both Organising for Collaborative Work and Building Assessment Literacy, (which comprise the Prepare Phase). At Elsternwick PS with new teachers joining the team and the existing staff digging deeper we found its a stage that is never exhausted. In fact a diagram I created for the presentation Mark and I delivered at the 2012 Data Wise Impact Workshop, represents the Prepare Phase as the underground root system which provides the solid foundation and nourishment for the remainder of the Improvement cycle; the Inquire and Act Phases.

Those who are part of the Elsternwick Primary School (PS) community are likely to know that Building Assessment Literacy with teachers and school leader was the topic of my Masters thesis. It came from numerous conversations with frustrated school principals who each reported that whilst teachers were adept at collecting data, they were unable to genuinely interpret and use it to inform evidence-based, individualised student learning. Furthermore, these school principals expressed uncertainty about how to develop these skills within their own teaching staff, with some admitting that the development and implementation of a school-wide assessment schedule had not achieved this as they had thought it would have. Interestingly, this sentiment was echoed by one of the two principals leading the elementary schools I am coaching this week. And it’s not only Principals who were experiencing frustration! The overarching sentiment of the teachers involved in my Masters Action Research assignment, was that they were good at collecting data, (in fact many felt they were drowning in it), but were frustrated with their inability to ‘action it’ insofar as their lack of skills with which to genuinely interpret and use data to inform evidence-based student learning plans. (Jayne, P. 2010, unpublished thesis: Monash University, Australia)

In fact, the deliberate building of assessment literacy is one of the key characteristics that drew me to the Data Wise process in 2010-2011. This capacity building of teachers and school leaders continued today at the Institute,  and I must say that today’s session on Step 2 was vastly different to the one I participated in during June 2011, and had also been enhanced upon last years as well; which exemplifies the commitment to continual improvement and growth within the Data Wise Process, which was developed to help schools, (and more recently systems) engage in a continual improvement and inquiry process.

I also learned a lot about the rigours of standardised assessments here in the USA. It makes me grateful for my own Australian context where large-scale NAPLAN assessments are conducted within only 4 of a child’s 13 years of schooling. It makes me wonder what we might learn from one another… but that’s another post.

Finally the place of student voice within the assessment process was raised in my Green group today, again a perspective quite different from my own, and from what I know the outstanding teachers at Elsternwick PS are successfully engaging students in. However, that too is a post for another time.

If however, some of the sentiments or experiences of the educators and school leaders referred to here, resonate with you, may I suggest that you check out the new Introduction to Data Wise MOOC. This a free, self-paced online course that provides you with an overview of the Data Wise Improvement Process. If you are unsure about being what Data Wise is, or want to know more to make an evidence-based decision about integrating into your own school’s improvement strategy, then this is the place to go!

Introduction to Data Wise MOOC: https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-data-wise-collaborative-harvardx-gse3x