Monday, November 11, 2013

New Resource to Understand Your Students’ Growth on ACCESS


There's something you might not know about me. I'm a data nerd. My heart skips a beat at the thought of pretty charts and bar graphs. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that WIDA was putting together some new resources to help districts and schools look at systems-level patterns in their ACCESS for ELLs data. I was even more excited when they let me take a sneak peak at the materials earlier this fall. I couldn't wait until they were released so I could tell you about them. So, here it goes. Buckle your data seatbelts!

The new resources are available for purchase through MetriTech. If you would like to test drive the reports first, you can view samples here. The password is Preview.

After you log in, be sure to check out the fancy new Growth Report User Guide and sample reports. As you will see, these resources clearly took a great deal of time and effort to put together. The User Guide carefully walks you through the various aspects of the data reports. My favorite part is the analogy to the greenhouse plants. The analogy is great for understanding the complex issues around student (a.k.a. plant) growth. I think it will be an incredibly valuable tool for sharing this information with non-data nerds in your district. I also love that student data is presented in a number of ways: bar charts, scatter plots, and data charts.

My biggest concern is how districts will use this data. There is a very important section on page two called "Caveats for Use." In this section it explicitly states:
This report is not intended to be used for:
  • Federal, district, or school accountability purposes.
  • Teacher evaluation.
  • Individual student progress monitoring.
As you share this report in your district, please be sure that everyone sees and reads this section. Inevitably, the next question someone will ask is "Well, then, what can we use it for?" The answer to that question can be found on the last page of the report (page 22) in the section titled "Ways to Make Meaning of the Report". Here you will find a list of wonderful discussion questions to use with your staff members. When using the questions listed on that page, consider how the data supports what you are doing well. What are your areas of strength for different groups of students? Are certain domains stronger than others? Are students at certain grades stronger in particular domains? What type of language services did those children receive? For example, does the data indicate that your students who learned literacy skills in two languages are doing better in English language proficiency than those who only learned literacy skills in English? If so, be sure to celebrate that success and share it with your fellow educators, parents and community. Lately it seems that the majority of our conversations around data revolve around what needs to be changed. Be sure to spend some time identifying what you are already doing well so that you continue to do more of that in the future, too.

For more information or to order the growth reports for your district, contact MetriTech at 800-747-4868 and ask for WIDA Support. An annual subscription will be $200 per district/school + 15 cents per student. The per student cost is based on MetriTech's calculation of the number of students who were tested on ACCESS in 2013.

Written by: Tammy King

Image: WIDA Consortium

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