The leaders of Virginia’s Goochland County Public Schools have developed a culture founded in balanced, complete data, ensuring that every student’s learning is a priority. They created a vision for their schools, in collaboration with teachers, administrators, and families, that addresses the needs of the school community.
The district prioritizes individual growth over traditional achievement scores, allowing students to take ownership of the progress they make and ensuring that parents have a clear roadmap for their child’s growth. Instead of relying on a single standardized test score, Goochland uses multiple assessments and continuous reflection so that teachers are better equipped to individualize instruction for students.
In developing their strategic plan, Goochland’s leaders identified three measures to determine if they were fostering a learning environment where students feel safe to learn, teachers are supported, and families are engaged. These three measures—student growth, social-emotional indicators, and school climate—laid the foundation for the balanced assessment project for measuring student progress and achievement.
Goochland’s balanced approach to assessment and data analytics means that learning can become more individualized for students. In an effort to engage teachers as leaders in the system, leaders took a core group of teachers through a six-month review of every assessment in the state and let them pick the assessment they felt truly gauged student growth. Today in Goochland teachers are better equipped to individualize instruction for students, driving their continued success with instruction resulting in high levels of academic success for students.
Goochland is one of 22 school divisions in Virginia with 100 percent of schools reaching full state accreditation. The use of new tools for warehousing, viewing, and sharing a balanced picture of student progress is central to helping it outpace national norms with student growth. Tracking climate and engagement data among students and families helps leaders understand student needs and ensure high levels of community involvement with their district’s work.
Every great roadmap to student data success involves professional development and data literacy training for school leaders and teachers. In this area Goochland excelled. First, they rolled out their data-driven initiative slowly, to give teachers an opportunity to reflect, respond, and ask questions. They specifically emphasized that data would be used as a “flashlight and not a hammer” to help instructors increase student growth. In addition, they are piloting a teacher leadership model, which identifies division-wide teacher leaders to participate in a professional learning community to discuss data analysis and have teacher-to-teacher conversations. According to Sean Campbell, Goochland’s technical services specialist, teachers “became empowered with their own data and became very interested in data, and not just state tests.”
Find out more about great data use in service of student learning in Data Works for Students.