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We Need Proof: Capture & Demonstrate Student Performance across a Data Spectrum

by Annice Weinstein, Senior Manager, Assessment Data and Analysis 

May 23, 2018

With so much going on at your charter school on a day-to-day basis, it can be difficult to remember what data your staff needs to track throughout the year. This data is necessary to stay on top of accountability requirements and be able to demonstrate student performance to your stakeholders, as well as for your LCAP, charter renewal, WASC, and grants. This article takes a step-by-step approach to help you evaluate your data needs and establish processes for collecting that data.

Start with your Charter

When your school’s founding team wrote the charter, they laid the foundation for what the school aims to accomplish, student performance goals, and how it plans to measure its progress over the duration of the charter period. Because your LCAP is an annual reflection of the school’s performance and plan for improvement, aligning the goals and measurable pupil outcomes in your LCAP to your charter is critical. This will also save you time when you renew your charter, as aligning the two documents is a requirement for renewal.

As a next step, you’ll need to track progress towards the measurable outcomes you set in your LCAP. For example, if one of your student performance goals is that all students enrolled at your school since ninth grade will graduate and be accepted to college, then you need to have processes in place to track progress towards graduation requirements and college acceptance rates. To accomplish this, you could assign a member of your data team to collaborate with the school’s guidance counselors and college counselors to determine the best way to gather this information. If one of your metrics for academic achievement is that all students enrolled at your school since kindergarten will be reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, then you need to have processes in place to track reading levels for a cohort of students over time.

Data Integrity

You won’t be able to evaluate your progress and student performance toward LCAP goals and tell your school’s story without consistent, reliable data. What’s more, your CALPADS data will be used to calculate the CA School Dashboard state indicators, so it’s extremely important that it’s complete and accurate. Review all CALPADS certification reports carefully. Take the time to download all student-level state test results from TOMS, CELDT, ELPAC, and testing systems to a safe place at your school. The data may not always be available to download when you need it; for example, TOMS only houses two historical years of data.

For all local test data, make sure to include student IDs so you can calculate longitudinal progress. Include proficiency levels where applicable to make it easy to determine the percentage of students on grade level or meeting the standard. Make sure the team in charge of data at your school is aware of the important role they play in compliance requirements and storytelling, and work with them to establish standard processes for tracking and reporting all data. You’ll want to make sure that everyone involved in these processes is kept informed of critical updates and timelines.

Use Data to Tell Your Story

CA School Dashboard Indicators

When it comes time to tell your story, it’s important to present the school’s performance in a clear, honest, effective way. In addition to the good news, you’ll also need to communicate dips in performance and indications of achievement gaps. You can use your Dashboard indicators to identify achievement gaps by identifying any student groups performing two or more levels below the school’s overall performance. You should also be prepared to explain how you are using data to assist in improving performance or closing the achievement gap.

Your Dashboard indicators are also useful for identifying and highlighting progress in student performance, such as an improvement in the test performance of English Learners. Whenever possible, try to identify specific programs or lack of programs that can be tied to progress or setbacks; this will weave a thorough story and set the stage for you to provide related recommendations about the best way to allocate resources going forward.

Local Metrics

You can also use local metrics to highlight your school’s performance. If you’ve had success in a particular area, you’ll want to make sure to share this with your stakeholders. Here are a few examples of metrics that might make sense for your school to track and report:

  • College Application, Acceptance, or College-Going Rate
  • AP Course Enrollment or AP Pass Rate
  • GPA
  • Participation in Programs (extracurricular activities, arts & science programs, leadership)
  • SAT/ACT Scores
  • Fundraising Success
  • Community Service Hours
  • Re-Enrollment Rate or Waitlist Count (to indicate satisfaction with or interest in your school)
  • Results of Parent/Student Surveys

Performance Analysis

There are two main ways to demonstrate student performance when telling your school’s story: longitudinal progress and comparison view. The longitudinal view compares performance for the same set of students over time. The comparison view shows school-wide performance by grade level or subgroup compared to demographically similar, resident, or district schools. When comparing performance, be sure to select comparison schools based on specific criteria such as similar demographics or geographic proximity. In the end, it all goes back to data integrity, as both views depend on access to complete, accurate data.

Summary

The most effective way to prepare to demonstrate student performance at your school is to outline a data collection strategy and plan. Make sure the relevant staff are on the same page regarding your school’s goals and implementation of those goals, so you are capturing the information you need to tell a powerful story. Schedule time throughout the school year to review progress on the measures established in your LCAP, accurately maintain your CALPADS data, and thoroughly understand your Dashboard. All of this will prepare you to explain both the progress and struggles reflected in your data.

Find out more about EdTec’s Student Performance Services.

Get Your School’s Performance Data Renewal Ready!

By Annice Weinstein, Senior Manager, Assessment Data & Analysis

December 14, 2017

Charter renewal is a very time intensive process, and it can be even more demanding if you haven’t already collected the necessary performance data. The following three steps will set you up to have your data ready when the time comes to start working on your renewal petition, so you can focus your energy on putting together a sound analysis and a strong narrative that highlight your school’s achievements!

  • Download your student level data files for state tests as soon as the state makes them available. These files may not be available in your account when it’s time for renewal, so it’s best to download the files annually as they are released. For example, the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) currently stores just two years of summative test results, so make sure to have your LEA CAASPP coordinator download the files as soon as the state indicates they are ready. You can find the files in TOMS (https://caaspp.ets.org/) under Reports (on the left), LEA Reports. Scroll down to the bottom to download the Student Results Report-Student Score Data Extract for each year available. CalTAC has recently removed the 2014-15 files, so you may need to contact them directly if you didn’t already download these files. You may reach CalTAC at 800-955-2954 or caltac@ets.org.
  • Keep track of your comparison schools. Does your authorizer require comparisons to specific schools? Are there other schools in your area, or schools with demographics or programs similar to yours, that you strive to outperform? If most of the relevant comparison schools are within the same district, take a look at the California School Dashboard Five-by-Five grids to see how your school stacks up on the Dashboard indicators: http://www6.cde.ca.gov/californiamodel/. And keep an eye on your Academic Accountability Report with the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA): http://snapshots.ccsa.org/aar. CCSA produces a Similar Students Measure that will give you an idea of how your school’s performance on the SBAC compares to that of demographically similar schools.
  • Select LCAP performance metrics that track longitudinal progress for the same set of students. This will help you stay on track with annual data collection and give you a boost when you want to share your longitudinal progress on local assessments with your authorizers. The metrics can include performance on NWEA MAP, developmental reading assessments, or i-Ready. Working the tests into your LCAP metrics is a good way to ensure that you review progress annually and have the data necessary for your renewal.