State Advocacy

Data Are Just Part of Good Teaching in Rhode Island

Data Are Just Part of Good Teaching in Rhode Island
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Data Are Just Part of Good Teaching in Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island recognized the impact data use has on improving student achievement by prioritizing data use in schools across the state. Sherman Elementary School in the city of Warwick is one example of how the effective use of data by a school community—including teachers, principal, and other school-based staff—can lead to improved academic performance.

Sherman’s success can be attributed to several key elements, including the school’s state-provided data coach, the school data leadership team (data team), the district data liaison, and the different forms of trainings and workshops provided to ensure data are used effectively, including that student privacy is safeguarded. While the state-led effort motivated Sherman to reevaluate the school’s data use efforts, educators at Sherman have worked hard to support the effective use of data. Sherman’s data team studies, implements, and maintains collaborative data practices to improve student performance.

The data team comprises five educators and the principal, Dr. Michelle Paton. These educators include a first-grade teacher, reading specialist, guidance counselor, fifth-grade teacher, and special education teacher. To ensure sustainability, the external data coach worked with the data team to create a sustainability plan at the school level, and the district data liaison serves this purpose districtwide.

To provide a greater understanding of data use and its effect on student performance and professional development, data team members are provided trainings, off-site workshops, and a final sustainability planning workshop. These services build a solid foundation on the use and analysis of student data, while working with the data coaches to combine data analysis, instruction, and information for long-term use.

Due to the increase of effective data use at Sherman, the school saw significant improvements in performance. The data team attributes this success to several factors, such as involving all staff members in the process and formalizing a team to determine a uniform school agenda based on the data. Effective data use has helped teachers quickly understand what skills their students have already grasped and which need more attention in the classroom, as well as ensuring all students are provided with tailored curricula to best suit their needs.