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The Data Toolkit

The Data Toolkit
Ten Tools for Supporting School Improvement

Foreword by Kate Dickson

January 2012 | 160 pages | Corwin
How to accelerate analysis into action

Using data for school improvement is a key goal of Race to the Top, therefore now is the time to make data-driven school improvement a priority. However, many educators are drowning in data. Boost your professional learning community's ability to translate data into action with this newest book from Robert T. Hess and Pam Robbins. The Data Toolkit provides ten easy-to-use tools that don't require statistical expertise, can be implemented in a timely manner, and facilitate problem-solving at classroom, school, and district levels. These proven methods help educators:

- Frame the questions

- Drive the conversation

- Engage in productive reflection

- Uncover understandings

- Create a data-driven plan

- Achieve and monitor results

Written in an educator-friendly format each chapter contains instructions on using the tool, a sample scenario, and examples—practical tools that will help your PLC be the best it can be.

Also included are case studies that show how data teams, PLCs, and individual teachers have used the book's methods in their own settings. The culminating school improvement mapping tool guides the team through designing an action plan focused on increasing student learning and achievement outcomes.

Foreword by Kate Dickson
About the Authors
Chapter 1: Build Your Team
The Power of Relationships

Tool 1: The Smalley Team-Building Personality Test

Another Team-Building Strategy: Using Objects to Reflect Personalities

High-Functioning Teams

Improvement Means Change, and Change Means Conflict

Understanding How Change Occurs

Team Member Roles and Responsibilities

TIPS Framework for Data Teams

Additional Helpful Hints

Chapter 2: Identify the Problem: Using Data to Transform Our Intentions
Tool 2: Identify the Problem

Using Data to Unpack the Problem of Mobility

Vertical Alignment and Mobility

Using Identify the Problem in a Classroom

Data Reflection Helps Budget Woes

A Happy Ending to Budget Woes

In the Field: Identify the Problem

Putting It All Together

Chapter 3: The Three Guiding Questions: Making Instruction Work
Data and Conversation

Tool 3: Three Guiding Questions

How to Use Three Guiding Questions

Asking the Right Questions

The Power of Thinking

Corbett: A District That Thinks

Conversation Promotes Thinking and Reflection

In the Field: Three Guiding Questions

Putting It All Together

Chapter 4: Analyze Your Students: Let the Data Decide
Teach to the Top

Analyzing Driving Quantitatively

Creating the Standard

Measuring to a Standard

The Kennewick Model

Analyzing Students in Local Districts

Classroom Example

In the Field: A Kindergarten Success

Putting It All Together

Chapter 5: Four Quadrants: Creating Crosshairs With Data
Tool 5: Four Quadrants: Creating Crosshairs With Data

Reeves's Four Quadrants: Lucky, Leader, Loser, and Learner

Using the Four Quadrants to Gauge RTI Progress

Using the Four Quadrants to Analyze Classroom Data

Classroom Example: Third-Grade Classroom Data in Four Quadrants

Using the Four Quadrants to Analyze Grade-Level, School-Level, and District-Level Data

Teacher and Principal Effectiveness in Four Quadrants

Instructional Leadership Standards for Principals

Building Management Standards for Principals

Teacher Effectiveness in the Four Quadrants

Classroom-Based Instructional Standards

Non-Classroom-Based Standards

In The Field: Analyzing Freshman Failures

Putting It All Together

Chapter 6: Wagon Wheel: Using Multiple Points of Data to Drive Instruction
Tool 6: Wagon Wheel

Mapping Fourth-Grade Writing on the Wagon Wheel

Reflecting on the Data

Using the Wagon Wheel to Measure InTASC Standards

Learner and Learning

Content Knowledge

Instructional Practice

Professional Responsibility

In The Field: Using the Wagon Wheel to Analyze RTI Effectiveness

Putting It All Together

Chapter 7: Five Whys: The Power of Questions
Tool 7: Five Whys

Persistent Achievement Gaps

A Diverse District Beating the Odds

Schools Beating the Odds

The Power of Working Together

Teaching Students to Think

21st Century Skills: The Future is Now

In The Field: Implementing a Core Program

Putting It All Together

Chapter 8: Relations Diagram: Discovering the Key Drivers
Tool 8: Relations Diagram

Tackling Discipline Problems

Motivating Students

In The Field: READ 180 Revisited

Putting It All Together

Chapter 9: The Fishbone: Making a Difference With Data
Leadership Matters

Real Education Reform

Making a Difference in the Classroom

Tool 9: The Fishbone

Improving Tenth-Grade Math Scores

Everyone Writes

In The Field: Green Acres, The Place to Be

Putting It All Together

Chapter 10: School Improvement Mapping: Making Strategic Decisions and Taking Action
Tool 10: School Improvement Mapping

Goal Setting

Using Data to Drive Goals

Clear Strategies

Specific Actions

Improving Writing Districtwide with Goals, Strategies, and Actions

Creating the Building Blocks of Excellence

Hiring the Best

Professional Development

Evaluation for Meaningful Feedback

Improving Instructional Feedback

The Power of Mentoring as an Improvement Tool

Moving to the Next Level: A New Model of Systemic Improvement

Running in Circles

Collaboration = Connectivity

Stepping Up to Collaboration

In The Field: High School Mentoring Project

Putting It All Together

11. Now What? Using the Tools in the Classroom, School, and District
Tool 1: The Smalley Team-Building Personality Test

Tool 2: Identify the Problem

Tool 3: Three Guiding Questions

Tool 4: Analyze Your Students

Tool 5: Four Quadrants

Tool 6: Wagon Wheel

Tool 7: Five Whys

Tool 8: Relations Diagram

Tool 9: The Fishbone

Tool 10: School Improvement Mapping


“An invaluable resource for teachers and school leaders; a sensible, practical, and human approach to understanding and using data; an excellent guide to use a broad range of data meaningfully for the improvement of education.”

Yong Zhao, Professor, Presidential Chair
University of Oregon

“Finally, a book that treats data as more than a set of percentages!”

Charre Todd, Science Teacher
Crossett Middle School, Crossett, AR

“This book is filled with great strategies to establish and grow a school’s data team, bringing them from ordinary to extraordinary.”

Brian E. Fernandes, Reading Specialist & Literacy Coach
Hampden Meadows School, Barrington, RI

“Many districts and schools are approaching school improvement by implementing bits and pieces of data work without understanding how to build a foundation beneath the practices. This book provides practical and effective tools that can strengthen any improvement program through the efficient use of both quantitative and qualitative data.”

Carrie Carpenter, Instructional Coach
Redmond School Districut 2J, Redmond, OR

“We’ve been talking data, producing data, collecting data, analyzing data, and using data to drive instruction for over ten years. But most of us in the field still don't really know how to do that. This book shows teachers and school leaders how to use data to improve student learning.”

Scott Hollinger, Instructional Coach for Principals and Teachers
Communities Foundation of Texas: Texas High School Project, McAllen, TX

“I am excited to say that educators finally have a book that provides a practical toolkit to help increase data fluency and begin using it to foster students’ growth. The authors provide precise tools for drilling down into the data and using it in a way that benefits our students.”

Florie Buono, Assistant Principal for Curriculum & Instruction
Gulf High School, New Port Richey, FL

"This book does for educators what a great teacher does for students: it motivates and instructs. Rob and Pam deliver powerful concepts in a very accessible way. They provide a logical framework for educators to work through tough problems while building energy and motivation."

Sandra Husk, Superintendent
Salem-Keizer Public Schools, OR

"This practical toolkit takes an educator from data parlysis to data analysis. Hess and Robbins have assembled a masterful resource of templates, facilitation tips, data analysis instruments and examples of achievement success. There is something of value for every teacher, principal or superintendent who endeavors to improve student performance."

Betty Flad, Program Director, Educational Administration
Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR

“This practical and insightful guidebook provides tools for principals and teacher leaders to facilitate the cycle of continuous improvement and achieve gains in both student and staff learning. Rob Hess and Pam Robbins have synthesized best practices from both research and the field that are both balanced and comprehensive.”

Candace Stevens, CLASS Project Coach, Consultant
The Chalkboard Project, Foundations for a Better Oregon, Portland, OR

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