Blog

How Our Teams Can Reflect at a Higher Level

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Robert Marzano taught us many years ago that the school level factor that has the greatest impact on student learning is a guaranteed and viable curriculum. Given the bank of research supporting common formative assessments (CFAs), it is time we study whether CFAs are the team-level factor that most impacts student learning. Read more

Data Moments

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Collaborative teams engage in professional learning when they focus on the results of their own efforts. In a professional learning community, data from team-developed common assessments serve as the linchpins of success. Too often, however, teams are bogged down by data: the data set is too big, the opportunities for gathering the data are too sparse (just one or two common assessments in a quarter), the organization of the data is too time-consuming, the meeting time to discuss the results is too short, etc. For these many reasons, teams often confess they spend more time planning their efforts than examining the results of their efforts. Planning isn’t bad; it just isn’t sufficient in a professional learning community. Healthy and productive teams always examine the impact of their best-laid plans. Read more

Doing It or Doing It Well? Using Data for Learning

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About five years ago, I decided that it was time to get in shape. An infomercial caught my eye and I found myself ordering a video program, weights, bands, nutritional guide, and pull-up bar while wating impatiently for my new life to begin. After the second day of inserting a DVD into my computer and following along, I realized this commitment was not going to be easy. With persistence, in about a month, I felt I was actually making progress and able to do the exercises. However, just as I began to swell with pride, I caught a glimpse of myself in the fireplace glass and gasped. While I thought I looked like the trainers on the DVD, I suddenly realized I wasn’t even close! Read more

Doing the Right Things Right: Building Capacity, Quality Control, Fidelity, and Accountability

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“What drives your school improvement efforts—evidence of best practice or the pursuit of universal buy-in?” This question is posed by Dr. Richard DuFour in his article, . . . Read more

Give Your Teaching a Jump-Start

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Part of teaching in a professional learning community is having to confront not only our individual strengths, but also our weaknesses as teachers. By being accountable for common formative and . . . Read more

Data: More Than a Number

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Over the last several years, I have had the privilege of working with schools and districts as they develop and use common formative assessments to help assure that all kids learn at high levels. . . . Read more

The Law of the Vital Few

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When Robert J. Marzano conducted a review of the average state or provincial curriculum, he confirmed what teachers already knew: it is not possible to teach all curricular outcomes to every child . . . Read more

A Case of Being Curious: How Do You Know?

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“It always annoyed me how in the old fashioned detective story, the detective always seemed to get at his results either by some sort of lucky chance or fluke or else it was quite . . . Read more

“Blurring the Lines” in an Elementary School

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What would it look like if we “blurred the lines” in our school? How would schools function if every student received what he or she needed regardless of disability or language? At a . . . Read more

Data, Data Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink

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“There is too much testing . . . just let them teach!” How many times have you heard that from parents and state legislators? I hear this mantra as a consultant and a school board . . . Read more

Data-Informed Versus Data-Driven PLC Teams

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One of the three big ideas of a professional learning community calls for us to be data driven. A recent blog raised an interesting perspective when it was suggested that we should be more . . . Read more

A Powerful Tool for Student and Teacher Learning

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I remember early in my leadership constantly assessing where we were as a school and setting goals for where we needed to go as a school. With a clear vision in mind, we would chart incremental . . . Read more

Are Your Assessments Good, Not So Good, or . . . Great?

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“What does a good formative assessment look like?” “Can you please show us some examples?” These are the types of questions that often surface as collaborative teams in PLC schools delve into the work of... Read more

Is It Worth It? Sharing Data From Successful PLCs

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As we speak about professional learning communities, we know that excitement for student learning is palpable. It is impossible to not be jazzed when we speak about all students learning at high . . . Read more

Assessing Your School’s PLC Progress

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“What should we do next?” is a question I frequently hear as a PLC consultant. But without data, I can’t answer this question. I have to understand where a school is on the PLC . . . Read more