I finished a long day by focusing on data at a session by Wayne Stevens from the Kentucky Department of Education. He’s a former high school teacher and is now working to support teachers at the state level.
LDC has been around for a while in Kentucky as an instructional tool. They are now looking at how they can use it as a way to measure student growth. We discussed the importance of measuring student growth; we decided that it’s important to know where students are at and to know whether or not are instructional methods are effective. Students themselves need to know about their growth as they move along the pathway toward careers and college.
Wayne took a step back and described a situation in which he went to a parent-teacher meeting and had a principal explain the district assessment system. Despite the fact that he’s spent his career in education and works at the state office, he left confused and wondered how the other parents have felt, concluding that we as a profession need to work at communication when it comes to measuring student growth and telling parents how we’re doing it.
Using LDC modules to measure student growth can work, according to Wayne, as long as teachers meet certain conditions:
-Your student growth goals must be congruent with the state standards.
-The goals have to represent enduring skills; skills that transfer across disciplines and get kids ready for -college; things like “constructing compelling questions” or “using evidence to support a claim.” Kentucky went to great lengths to come up with a comprehensive list, which Wayne shared with us.
-You need to allow a way for all students to grow. This is especially important for high-performing students who “ceiling out” early in the year.
One important step is collecting data early in the year. Baseline data. He shared an example of a teacher who taught an LDC module at the start of the year and looked closely at the students’ scores to see which areas they had the most needs. However, it was important that this teacher – a high school history teacher – chose areas in the rubric that correspond to standards for which history teachers are responsible. Those are the areas that would make sense in terms of writing student growth goals.
After making those important decisions, that teacher then has a clear target and a means – LDC modules – by which to hit that target.
Another issue, brought up by one of the participants, was how to compare LDC scores across grade levels, since a 3 in seventh grade looks different than a 3 in tenth grade. Compounding that, of course, is the fact that scores frequently vary even between different classrooms at the same grade level.
This was an interesting session. For me it raised more questions than it actually answered. LDC is a great instructional tool and it has the potential to be a useful assessment tool. I’m entirely sure if it’s a perfect assessment tool, especially when you take it to a level beyond an individual teacher’s classroom.