Oregon Teachers Creating Student Achievers with DATA
Oregon may be known for its abundance of natural resources, but one in four children live in poverty.
However, there is hope for many young dreamers in the public school system. The Oregon Direct Access to Achievement (DATA) Project has succeeded in closing the achievement gap by giving teachers access to quality data and teaching them to use data to inform their instructional decisions, a thorough investment in educator data literacy.
The Oregon DATA Project
Since 2007 the Oregon DATA Project has trained nearly 5,000 educators to use data to inform instructional decisions. During this time Oregon has documented teachers feeling more comfortable using data in the classroom, and the state has seen improved student achievement in schools participating in the Oregon DATA Project. Building educator data literacy—Action 9 of the Data Quality Campaign’s 10 State Actions—empowers teachers to use data in their vital work of improving student learning.
Using a grassroots approach the Oregon DATA Project has invested in teachers and school leaders by granting technical access to student data and providing comprehensive, job-embedded training on how to use those data to make decisions in the classroom. “The benefit is that we’re all here for student achievement, and we all want to see our kids grow, and we sometimes forget that when we’re in the middle of the data . . . [but this project] helps us put those faces and eyeballs back on the numbers and remember we’re all here for the kids,” said an Oregon DATA Project teacher.
The goals which are to address the technical needs of easy access to data and to change perceptions of the value of data on improving student achievement. The DATA Project meets these goals by doing the following:
- Evaluating the needs of the field.
- Developing a training model based on those needs.
- Creating instructional teams to serve as trainers.
- Delivering job-embedded data training.
The Pivotal Role of the State
Oregon was best positioned to take the lead in setting up policies, practices, and district collaboration that has led to improved educator understanding of how to use data to improve classroom practices to increase student achievement. In 2007 the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) began to build a statewide longitudinal data system. But what good is a data system without buy-in from the educators who would use it? The Oregon DATA Project, born from the ODE longitudinal data system grant, was organized in collaboration with several other Oregon state organizations and 19 education service districts (ESDs), which offer support and services to the districts in their area. This collaboration, set at the state level, created a culture shift around data use that has led to increased student achievement.
The Million Dollar Question: Is It Working? YES!
National Assessment for Education Progress reports that Oregon is one of five states in which the achievement gap has widened in 2003–2011. However, schools participating in the Oregon DATA project show the achievement gap closing in reading and math, pointing to the power of educator data literacy. Just two years of professional development for teachers in participating schools led to the following:
- The percentage of students at or above proficient on the state test grew significantly more than students in those schools whose teachers did not receive training on data use in their classrooms.
- The achievement gap between the two groups of schools decreased in reading and closed in math.
Figure 1: Percentage Gains in Reading Grades 3-8 (The Oregon Data Project: Building a Culture of Data Literacy, Mickey Garrison, 2012)
The Oregon DATA Project’s job-embedded professional development on data use has ameliorated the concerns teachers have about data use and provided teachers with effective strategies for using data in the classroom. “From the data, looking at what data we were going to use, guiding our professional development, sharing among individual schools and then growing to teams of teachers across the district, [it was] very satisfying and heartwarming to know that we are doing the kind of work where truly no child will be lost in this incredible goal of all students will succeed,” shared Director of School Improvement Carol Sanders, Oregon City Schools.
(This story is excerpted from Investing in Educator Data Literacy Improves Student Achievement, Brennan McMahon, Data Quality Campaign, 2012.)