Here’s another example. Like other middle school students, the eighth-graders at Nathaniel Bowditch are building their ability to recognize the broad themes embedded within the texts they are reading. Recognizing themes is a complex skill to master, and the eighth-grade teachers at Nathaniel Bowditch understood that there were foundational skills students needed first. For instance, before they can recognize broad themes, students must understand why an author is using a device like analogy or allusion to create tone and meaning in a passage. By using interim assessment data, teachers at Nathaniel Bowditch recognized that their students were correctly identifying tone and meaning about 40 percent of the time at the beginning of the year. By using collaborative time to plan lessons that would build this skill, the teachers at Nathaniel Bowditch now have their students recognizing tone and meaning 80 percent of the time. The eighth-graders at Nathaniel Bowditch are well on their way to mastering this key building block.
At ANet, we’ve been excited to support teachers like Ms. Burke at Nathaniel Bowditch, and we are just as excited to support other teachers and leaders in schools across Salem. Each one of our school partners is developing a data leadership team to ensure that their fellow teachers have consistent access to the kind of data that is helping target instruction at Nathaniel Bowditch. Earlier this week, Andre Stemm-Calderon, one of my colleagues at ANet, remarked on particularly exciting work he had seen at Horace Mann during his last visit to the school. “The data leadership team was extremely reflective about the way their use of data is helping shape what they teach and, more importantly, how it is helping kids learn.” In the team at Horace Mann, Andre saw one of the most important characteristics of strong data leadership: a growth mindset. The team is focused on supporting each other, on using data simply as a means to identify specific areas where they can help each other and help their students.