Nov 2, 2010 by Corey Fitzgerald
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data driven decisions in schoolsTechnology offers us so many useful tools and strategies; it’s a wonder how we ever got along without them.  Let’s consider the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver and its remarkable ability to pinpoint our location anywhere on earth.  Accurate to within one meter, a long step for most adults, and capable of tracking your route across any terrain, they rely on a continuous feed of real-time data that is accurate and reliable.  As educators, can we apply concepts like these to the classroom to make better, faster and more accurate decisions about the learning landscape?   

It’s a rhetorical question, and the resounding answer is Yes. However, there is room to argue that our current system leaves us falling perpetually short as educators are forced to wait weeks or months for standardized assessment results to flow back into their hands.  The resonating concern is that this periodic data limits the ability to accurately address the underlying causes of failure in-step with the ongoing instruction.  Corrective action must ensue, and initiatives to support a more timely return on the data must be put into place through a process with strategies to track the day to day activities and progress monitoring for all students. 

Thankfully, some of these efforts are already underway, reflected in the nation’s focus to implement state-wide reform, with a priority being placed on Assessment and Standards.  However, a paradigm still exists, in that benchmarking is limited to designated grade levels and the “in between years” are somewhat neglected, leaving variability and non-standardization to chance.  So how does your state stack up?  Visit the USDOE Institute of Education Sciences website, National Center for Education Statistics, and query the collection of data and reports to learn more: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/statereform/

Next steps: Plotting a course to data utopia. 

Using cutting edge technology underpinned with neuroscience principles on how the brain learns, Scientific Learning has pioneered software that accelerates the acquisition of language and reading skills, yielding years of gain in a matter of weeks.  Like a GPS, a continuous stream of real-time dataprovides accurate and reliable measures of student performance daily, plotting an ideal course of learning that eliminates the lag time of data collection and analysis.  Furthermore, educators can weave this information back into the classroom immediately, and focus intently on the specific areas of need.  In keeping sights set high on the destination—achievement for all students—there’s a proven way to deliver success where getting lost is not an option.

Categories: Education Trends