CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 45, No. 56

July 31, 2011

Data Fair Highlights Student Achievement, Effective Practices

Missouri educators are having a show-and-tell session of their own. Starting today, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is hosting a two-day data fair during its annual statewide conference for school administrators. The event allows educators to highlight promising practices for improving student achievement.

Educators share promising practices at data fair.

Educators share school-level improvement strategies and results. The data fair is held as part of the annual conference for school administrators.   (2010 file photo) 

The data fair is being held at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia in conjunction with the 50th Annual Cooperative Conference for School Administrators, July 31 to Aug. 2. Approximately 500 school administrators and education leaders attend the conference each year.

“The ‘data wall’ is one of the most powerful techniques that educators and school leaders can use to improve decision-making in the classroom, school and district,” said Leigh Ann Grant-Engle, assistant commissioner for the department’s Office of Data System Management.

The data wall is a portable display, using the cardboard three-panel display frequently used for student science fairs.  The displays share school-level data that is used to make informed decisions.

“When administrators gather to discuss their ideas for improving student achievement, the data walls provide a rich source of information about the strategies employed in each school,” Grant-Engle said.

Using the concept of data teams, the Department has embarked on a statewide initiative that began at the conference last year. Data teams are small groups of school personnel in their school buildings who examine results generated from common formative assessments and common scoring guides. They allow teachers to set improvement goals based on actual student-achievement data. The main focus is always on teaching and learning.

“Schools that analyze and utilize data are better able to make decisions about sustaining powerful practices, making midcourse corrections and discontinuing ineffective practices,” Grant-Engle said. “Data teams provide a structure that allows schools to break down the silos of individual practice and create instead truly professional teams of educators who continuously reflect on and improve their practice.”

The state’s overall goal is to have data teams in every school building in Missouri. Since last August, representatives from nearly 300 school districts have participated in two-day training sessions on data teams. There are more than 125 certified trainers throughout the state.