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Don't Let Dirty Data Sabotage Your Curriculum Planning

As a school administrator, few things are as stressful as curriculum mapping and trying to adjust the curriculum using dirty data and without updated measures of academic progress. I remember getting data from the state level, in the form of state test scores, in July and August and trying to work with our curriculum coordinator and grade level teams to try to sort out the information in order to get ready for school in just a very few days. The problem was that we weren’t getting all the data we needed from state test scores, and it certainly wasn’t in a user-friendly format that we could put into action right away in our planning for the upcoming year. Often it took days and weeks to sort it out. What a mess!

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Another problem, as I see it, was that trying to sort out test scores alone did not really help us to really get to the heart of what each individual child needed to be successful. To compound the issue, often we got the information so late in the summer, and sometimes even after school had started, that we would make assumptions and mistakes in our planning for the coming year. By the time we got ‘clean’ data, usually in late September or early October, a quarter of the year had passed. Sometimes, upon receiving the corrected and ‘clean’ data, we would realize that we had made mistakes. We would then adjust the curriculum to include or exclude priorities, which earlier in our planning seemed to be appropriate. By the time we would make adjustments even more instructional time had passed and slipped away. These are just a few of the frustrations of planning the curriculum.

I realize, as much as anyone, the importance of planning appropriately for the coming year. I also know that, at the end of the day, we will be judged primarily on our state test scores. Our accreditation sometimes depends on it. Our funding, and our creditability do as well. However, there are many factors that also count and cumulatively matter as much as state test scores. Our daily evaluations matter, as does our progress monitoring, system programs and initiatives, getting the kids to school and recognizing patterns of truancy, and many other factors.

Bringing it all together in a format easy for the education team to decipher is important. Being able to recognize patterns of progression and regression and the effectiveness of programs that we are using is imperative. Helping to assimilate, decipher, and interpret data is what we do at SchoolStatus.

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By bringing together all the data in one place, it makes it easier for all of us to make decisions that are crucial for planning our instruction. SchoolStatus encourages and documents communication, easily identifies strengths, weaknesses and trends. All of this helps in planning curriculum.

While evaluating state test scores is vitally important in curriculum planning, it is not everything. I think sometimes we get so caught up in test scores, we tend to overlook other things that also matter. It causes us to group and sort students based on looking at them from a very large perspective. But, if we monitor and assess student growth from a more individualized perspective, we can gain a lot of insight into what our students need on a smaller scale. This is just one thing we do well. We look at students individually. But we also disaggregate data and give you a holistic view of what is going on in your district.

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Happy Planning for ’17-’18!!!

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Former Superintendent Terry Larabee knows about the frustrations of curriculum planning- which is why he is so passionate about the tools we created at SchoolStatus. Not only have we created the most effecient process for getting all your data on a single pane of glass, we paired that data with tools for real parent and community engagement. Find out more here

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