Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Update on Action Plan

Much of my daily time is devoted to working with TCMPC (formally CSCOPE) and the  released EOC questions.  As the instructional coach at the high school, I run the PLC meetings in which teachers analyze heat maps to compare how students performed on unit tests, checkpoints, and benchmarks to EOC state assessments.  In PLC this year, we have used many resources from Lead4ward to analyze the validity of assessments and how they did or did nto predict student success.  We looked at areas in the red (with less than 50 percent mastery on the SE) and compared how it was tested by CSCOPE and how it was tested by the EOC to close gaps between taught, learned, and tested.  We have also identified checkpoints that were not good indicators for student knowledge and skill; several tests from last year measure the specificity of a TEK that should not have been mastered yet.  I have rewritten several of these Central Office tests to better show mastery of the TEKS in the IFD (scope and sequence document per unit).  We have also analyzed questions for the SEs that appeared in the red for rigor and breadth in order to evaluate how the skill is taught versus tested and postulated reasons for differences.  We are also in the process of identifying SEs that were not tested on a unit test or district test but appeared on the EOC; this is particularly a problem with ELAR as adding questions often means adding passages.  I am also in the process of creating a data wall to monitor our students who have failed the EOC.  We can look at how they are doing in their classes and on TCMPC unit tests to see if they are progressing or are in need of more intervention. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Action Research Planning Template... Thoughts???

Action Planning Template
Goal: Determine the reliability of CSCOPE unit assessments and district benchmarks as a predictor of EOC success
Action Steps(s):
Person(s) Responsible:
Timeline: Start/End
Needed Resources
Compile Heat Maps (quantitative data chart) for each EOC content for 2011-2012

Aug 2013
Eduphoria Aware access, Excel
Color code quantitative data into red, yellow, and green categories to track progress or lack there of
Get Met Expectations chart from Assistant Superintendent

ME, Assistant Superintendent
Aug 2013
Track progress on the data chart
Update Heat Maps for 2013-2014 School Year as each content takes a test

Sporadic (about every 2-3 weeks), Ongoing through end of year
Eduphoria Aware access, Excel
Color code quantitative data into red, yellow, and green categories to track progress or lack there of
Meet in PLCs with teacher teams to discuss data as it is updated

ME, Principal
PLC Setting
Keep qualitative data records after each benchmark meeting
Create a qualitative survey for teachers to describe variables in data
Sept 2013
Microsoft Word, TIME
Save file
Solicit teacher survey feedback after each checkpoint
March 2014
PLC Setting
Keep completed surveys
Meet with Principal and Assistant Superintendent monthly to update
ME, Principal, Assistant Superintendent
March 2014
Regularly scheduled meetings, updated heat maps for discussion
Write reflection after meetings
Research other possible test banks and test writers as Assistant Superintendent requests
ME, Assistant Superintendent
March 2014
Internet access, word of mouth
Include in reflections after meetings

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Action Research Reflections

As I continued to study action research through week 2 of this course, it became clear that action research is inescapable; it just be going on in every campus, classroom, and hallway because it is the way we grow and learn as educators.  When I first thought about action research, I pictured it as one big project, one thing to tackle for the school year.  However, I have learned that action research is going on everywhere and everyday.  Everyone (hopefully) is doing some kind of action research, even though it is probably not systemic and organized as it would be in a Master's program.  As I read about the nine areas in which action research can take place, I thought of so many ideas and ways to monitor improvement and student performance on campus.  The tricky part is narrowing it down!  It looks like it can be easy to wear too many hats at once.  Perhaps it is a good practice to have people on campus who are specifically in charge of the growth in each of the nine areas.  That way monitoring and follow-through is inevitable.

I also found it interesting that the video repeatedly mention data, which sometimes is one of those four-letter words on my campus.  However, the truth is that we cannot escape it.  It is part of action research and we must embrace those numbers for what they are: part of the story.  It is up to the teacher to fill in the rest of the story through qualitative action research.

I look forward to engaging in my own action research (whenever I narrow it down) and reading about the action research of others.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Action Research and Educators using Blogs

Action Research and its Use:
Through the reading and other various resources this week, I have learned the importance in action research for an educational leader.  Action research, or administrative inquiry, is a reflective process during which an administrator studies his or her own craft through questioning and data collection.  Change and the sharing of results are also included in action research.  Through this process, an administrator can gain a deeper understanding of himself and his leadership tendencies.  Action research is different than traditional research in that is it ongoing and specific to an administrator’s campus or district.  Rather than an outside expert informing a school how it should change, an inside view is gained through inquiry and is more specific to the context of the school.
As I engaged in my own inquiry this week, I reflected on the kinds of action research we practice in my district.  One thing that we are also trying to improve is student engagement.  One way we tackle this, in the form of action research, is through the CARA cycle.  Each department is allowed to set its own instructional goal.  For example, the history department may choose to improve student engagement through critical writing.  First the history department researches critical writing and student engagement through outside sources.  They then decide to the try various best practices to increase student engagement through critical writing. They measure student engagement in two ways: first in walk-thrus, which are conducts by instructional leaders, and second through test scores. The history department would then analyze the data and discuss the impact of including more critical writing in their classrooms.  They would then share their findings with the rest of the faculty at a meeting.   
By engaging in action research, like in the example above, educational leaders have a great opportunity for professional growth.  Rather than sitting in a workshop and maybe trying a strategy afterward, teachers and administrators are awarded the task of figuring out the solution for themselves.  Through this challenge, the learning and professional growth is more authentic. 
Also, an administrator engaging in action research becomes a model for his or her staff.  As the “head learner” on campus, an administrator must demonstrate the behaviors he or she wants to see (Dana).  If a principal expects his or her staff to engage in professional learning, he or she must also take time out of the busy day to do the same.
Educational Leaders using Blogs:
Education Leaders can use blogs to log and “capture” thinking, as Dana says.  Rather than simply collect data in the form of numbers, blogs can amass thinking in the form of words.  These words will create an historical account of the thinking and decision making on a campus.  Some concrete ways an educational leader can use a blog are as follows:
·         A Superintendent’s or Principal’s blog:  Through a blog like this, Superintendents and Principals can keep in touch with a community about campus and district happenings.  It is an easy way to showcase community events or warn that report cards are in the mail.
·         Instructional Leader’s blog: An instructional leader, like an instructional coach, can chronicle best practices being used around campus.  Blogs are a great forum to feature teachers using novel instructional strategies in the classroom and post resources for other teachers to do the same.