Friday, October 29, 2010

What Data Do We Use and How Do We Use Them?

Presentation by Thomas Hoerr (
New City School, St. Louis, MO

Facilitated dialogue format.

Question:  If you weren't here, what would you be doing back at your home setting right now? (8 am on a Friday)
  • Dealing with school bus issues
  • Answering emails
  • In meeting talking to a faculty member
  • Doing something with students
  • Dealing with upset parent
  • Teaching
Showed picture of tombstone:  Here lies Frederick Jones - verbal 680 - math 720

Question:  Which students are successful at your school, and how do you know it?
  • Demonstrated college readiness (ACT?)
  • Portfolios
  • Definitely not course grades (at least not by themselves and not if they are disconnected from learning standards)
  • Completion of first year of college
  • State assessments
  • Formative assessment
  • School attendance and participation in activities and events
  • Smile quotient
  • School climate says to you, "This is the place you want to be."
Need to measure student success more widely than we do now.

Question:  Are there differences between success in school and success in life?
  • Can students apply in life what they learn in school?
  • Can students solve problems and learn without teacher involvement?
  • School and real life are very different
  • Some students figure out the "system" of schooling but don't necessarily figure out the system of life
  • Becoming independent in thinking and learning
  • Kids need to hear more about real life from outsiders while in school
  • Technology restrictions in schools don't mirror real life
  • Students not given opportunity to provide input in how schools are run
  • Tom Hoerr: Too often success in school is considered the 'ceiling' instead of the 'floor.'"
  • Not enough schools are having this conversation in staff meetings or even in the teachers' lounge
  • Tom Hoerr: Schools are not assessing student growth for success in real life. Stuck on standardized tests.
Question:  What formal mechanisms exist - besides standardized tests, besides anything with a % - to assess student growth?  How is it reported?  What other assessment mechanisms could be used? What are the obstacles to this?
  • Student surveys and focus groups
  • ePortfolios
  • Demonstration in outside activities such as internships, community service, mentorships, leadership programs, etc
Great "wake-up" discussion this morning.  I sat at a table with a wonderfully diverse group of building administrators and teachers.

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