You ve Got Data by Brandy Macchia, interim principal, and Arlene Kane, reading coach, Tropic Isles Elementary, North Fort Myers, FL

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1 You ve Got Data by Brandy Macchia, interim principal, and Arlene Kane, reading coach, Tropic Isles Elementary, North Fort Myers, FL In the current educational world of data tracking and accountability, schools across the nation are looking to find the most efficient way of determining which data to track, how to track it and how to use it to effectively promote learning. At Tropic Isles Elementary, a Title I school located in North Fort Myers, FL, data tracking and accountability have contributed to the continued success of the school throughout the past several years. Tropic Isles serves 900 students in grades pre-k through fifth grade, with 84% of these students qualifying for free or reduced lunches. Some key elements that have contributed to Tropic Isles success include data-driven decision making, schoolwide goals and measures alignment, and student and staff accountability. Continuous improvement is achieved by establishing goals and identifying measures to accomplish the school s vision and mission. Tropic Isles has developed its own strategy map (long-term goals) and strategic plan (short-term plans) as a part of its in-house data system to track student achievement. Tropic Isles uses a strategy map (Figure 1 see figures at the end of the article) to identify the long-term goals and key performance measures. A strategic plan (Figure 2) is used to track in-process measures and identify action plans, and is developed at the end of each school year. Based on the data reviewed during this session, yearly goals or strategic objectives are set for reading, writing, math, science, employee engagement, student and staff satisfaction, and operational and fiscal matters. Determining goals Developing a strategy map is an efficient way of identifying long-term goals that can be easily deployed to the entire school because they are all contained in a one-page document. The first question to ask in identifying the strategic objectives to be included on the strategy map is: What areas of the school are critical to its success? After these objectives have been identified, short (one year) and long-term (three years) goals are created based on previous performance and projections, comparative data and district, state and federal requirements. Tropic Isles selected four main areas (strategic objectives) critical to the school s success: academic excellence, customer satisfaction, engaged employees, and fiscal and

2 operational excellence. For each of these strategic objectives, key performance measures are identified, and short and long-term goals are developed and included on the strategy map. After goals and measures are identified on the strategy map, a strategic plan is developed to track in-process performance on our four strategic objectives. Multiple in-process measures are included on the strategic plan, tracked and reported bimonthly. For example, under the academic excellence strategic objective, measures for reading, math, writing and science are included. Goal teams, composed of all instructional staff members and some noninstructional support staff, perform tracking and reporting. Tropic Isles has created at least one goal team for each of its strategic objectives. The academic excellence objective has four separate goal teams that monitor progress on reading, math, writing and science, which also align with the goals required by Florida s School Improvement Plan. Goal teams are professional learning communities in which goals are set, progress is tracked and action plans are developed and deployed across grade levels. Each goal team is responsible for tracking the data on student progress based on the performance measures on the strategic plan. Goal teams meet monthly and report progress bimonthly during staff meetings. Teams also share modified action plans to ensure established goals are attained. Goal teams are composed of a representative from each grade level, which allows cross grade-level communication and encourages faculty to work collaboratively with various grade levels to improve student achievement. The goal teams created teacher accountability and innovation through sharing of ideas and best practices. Based on the goals identified on the strategy map and tracked on the strategic plan, grade levels and classrooms each develop a strategy map with academic goals and measures relevant to their individual student needs. This map identifies goals, strategies, action plans, measures (formative and summative) and results. The data are tracked and publicly reported through grade-level data boards, classroom data centers and individual student data folders. Classroom data centers Each Tropic Isles classroom has a classroom data center (Figure 3). This data center is used to post the school, grade-level and classroom goals, as well as progress toward them. At the beginning of each school year, teachers conduct class meetings with the students to identify class goals that align with the school goals identified on the strategy map.

3 Each classroom identifies in-process measures that are appropriate to the classroom and align with the strategic plan measures. Progress on these goals is reported regularly to the class and recorded on class graphs included on the data centers. Teachers conduct class meetings with their students to review progress and modify action plans as needed. Students are held accountable for their own progress through the use of individual student data folders. Each student sets goals that align with classroom, grade-level and school goals. The data folder contains these goals, as well as a graphic representation of progress toward these goals. Although there are basic expectations for using and maintaining student data folders at Tropic Isles, teachers make the folders unique to meet the needs of their students. For example, some kindergarten teachers use boy and girl head outlines with the letters of the alphabet in individual squares so students can color each letter they learn until the picture has been completely filled in. Other classrooms have students record their data in Excel graphs kept on the computer. Data folders are maintained by the students and kept in the classroom data center. Tracking individual student and classroom goals has increased accountability and built relationships among the students as they help each other meet these goals. If the data tracked by goal teams (schoolwide), grade levels or classrooms indicate the students are not on track to meet the yearly goal, action plans are revised through the plan-dostudy-act (PDSA) cycle. The PDSA cycle is used throughout the school to facilitate change and continuous improvement. In addition to goal teams, grade levels and classrooms using PDSAs, each year, every instructional staff member creates a PDSA each year, reviews it regularly and reports progress to administration quarterly. Students also use PDSAs to help improve academics and behavior. It is especially helpful for students to use this self-evaluation technique to take ownership of their learning. The PDSA cycle consists of four components: Plan: What needs to improve, and what outcomes need to occur? What general approaches will you take to achieve the outcomes? When and how will the improvements be evaluated for results?

4 Do: What specific action steps or strategies will you use? Who will be responsible for implementing the action steps? What is the timeline for implementing the action steps or strategies? What resources will the action steps or strategies require? Study: What were the accomplished improvements and outcome results? What action steps or strategies were most effective? What was the direct impact on your students or your school? Act: How can this be further refined or improved? Can the improvements be transferred to other areas? If so, how? What is the timeline for implementing the action steps or strategies? When will this be reevaluated again? Tropic Isles Elementary was able to reorganize a traditional system and capitalize on innovative and successful learning strategies to turn around a struggling school. The development of this data system to track student achievement has aligned the data collection across grade-levels and within the entire school. This alignment starts at the top with creating the strategy map and strategic plan, includes the classroom data centers and ends with the individual student data folders. Despite demographics that would normally prove to be challenging, this data system has fostered an environment of continuous improvement and student success. Brandy Macchia is the interim principal at Tropic Isles Elementary in North Fort Myers, FL. She is a National Board Certified teacher and holds a master s degree in educational leadership. Brandy has presented at the Annual Florida Sterling Quality Conference, the National Quality in Education Conference and the William Glasser Institute s International Quality Conference. Arlene Kane is the reading coach at Tropic Isles Elementary. She is a National Board Certified teacher and is working on her master s degree in educational leadership. She also has

5 presented at the Annual Florida Sterling Quality Conference and the National Quality in Education Conference. Figure 1 Strategy map Tropic Isles Strategy Map Strategic Objectives Performance Measures Goal FY 11 Goal FY 12 Goal FY 13 Action Plans (short and long term) Customer Service Excellence % Overall Tropic Isles Satisfaction meeting or exceeding customer expectations % Overall Student Satisfaction meeting or exceeding customer expectations % Overall Parent Satisfaction meeting or exceeding customer expectations Academic Excellence Engaged Employees Fiscal & Operational Excellence % Math Grade Level 5 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Math Grade Level 4 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Math Grade Level 3 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Reading Grade Level 5 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Reading Grade Level 4 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Reading Grade Level 3 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Reading Grade Level 2 meeting or exceeding Stanford Results % Reading Grade Level 1 meeting or exceeding Stanford Results % Reading Grade Level K meeting or exceeding Stanford Results % Science Grade Level 5 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Writing Grade Level 4 meeting or exceeding FCAT Results % Employee satisfaction meeting or exceeding expectations % Employee engagement meeting or exceeding expectations % Teachers earning National Board Certification Total volunteer hours (make ratio - # per student) Total non-school district revenue (Grants, fundraisers, business partners, Star Harbor) Cafeteria food cost per plate 65,500 66,000 66,500

6 Figure 2 Strategic plan Figure 3 Classroom data center

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