In my role a as a mentor teacher I have to admit I was relieved and did one of those, “Yessss” moves where you pull your fist back by your side, when I found out I didn’t have to do TPEP this year.0 Despite my first assumptions this new job hasn’t been as much of a framework, growth goal, eVal free experience as I had thought it was going to be. In fact instead of worrying and monitoring just my own evaluation process I am doing so for fourteen other people. My life at work is more centered around the Danielson Framework than ever before. There is a constant attempt to interpret and understand the way seven different evaluators go about working with their evaluees and what their expectations are. One saving grace is that the tight timing of the school year and our district has kept them sort of caught up to one another so I am able to offer common advice to them at common times. I was thinking to myself that this might be a good time to bring this up for others too.
Right now, in the end of February, many of my mentees are starting to ask about their growth goals and data. And if they don’t bring it up, it’s high on my list of things to talk about. There are a couple of reasons why if you have put your data on the back burner for a while, you know, to get through the holidays, and then the end of the semester, or just have a life, it’s time to pull it back up to the front.
The first is that if you are a secondary teacher who has semester long classes it may be time to finish up and get it out of the way. This last week in fact I met with a teacher to get his charted. If this is where you are at the best advice I can give you is to get your data into a table or chart of some sort that is well organized and easy to read and discuss. There are plenty of examples out there for how to do this, but choose one that makes sense to you and remember the old adage to keep it simple stupid. Put your data into a google sheet, or an excel sheet. You can color code or make some great charts pretty easily from there. I have found that some of the most rich conversations I have had with my professional learning community and/or administrator have been around fairly simple pieces of information.
I would also encourage you to figure out how to use that data to show your students something about their learning as well. Could you create a chart that you could print an extra copy of to slice up and hand out to them? I have always done this with my students and found that it was much more meaningful for them sometimes than the adults who spend so much time fussing over it. If I have to make it for my evaluation I might as well figure out how to get it into the hands and minds of the kids. Then I can craft some reflective questions around the data and have the students think about their next steps and/or create a sense of pride around their growth.
If you are collecting data on a year long cycle, it’s a great time to get your mid-measure data collected. In my district baseline measures are expected to be taken before the end of October, and final data is expected sometime around mid-April. This means that if that hasn’t been collected yet it’s time to focus on getting it done as we are a bit past the midway mark. If you have a rubric that will work well for this and you are going to just do the same measure baseline, mid-cycle, and final, then great. Plan a lesson or assessment that will give you your next measure. This is also a really great time to figure out who is still struggling while there is time to support them. It’s always a hard row to hoe to figure out how to build a student’s skills when you find they are lacking too late in the game. Use your data to inform your teaching and it will transform this process from a hoop to a meaningful and impacting tool to increase student learning and success.
If you are someone who is not sure that it’s going to work out that simply, I have a few on my caseload, you could try a different measure that will still work as mid-cycle data. The Washington State Criteria Growth Rubric says that your goal should identify formative and summative measures but it does not say that those measures have to be the exact mirror of one another each time. The distinguished category also says that students reflect on their own learning and articulate their understanding of their goals and progress toward them. Perhaps instead of the same measurement you could have students rate themselves and answer some questions about their understanding of the importance of that skill as well as where else they could use that skill outside of your classroom or subject.
If need some more guidance, resources, or want to take a peek at the rubrics and elements for scoring growth goals you can check out OSPI’s page for Student Growth Resources.
I will be pushing my mentees in these mid-measure conversations to think about the importance of student reflection on their own growth as well as the balance of keeping the data accessible to all parties involved.
I am very interested to know where others out there are in the process of collecting data on student growth as well as how they get that data into the hands of their evaluators and students.