Data Dilemma

“Data – it is such a dilemma” – E. Holcomb

I have this quote hanging in my office.  I have displayed this quote because I believe data needs to drive our work; yet we can be starved for data, or inundated with data, or wonder about the quality of the data. For so many of us in the education world there seems to be so much data and so much to do that it can overwhelm us.

Organizing Professional Development Work:

Combining essential questions from Adaptive Schools and DuFours’ work with Professional Learning Communities, our department recently asked ourselves:

  • Who are we?
  • What work do we do?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • Is it the right work?
  • Are we doing the right work in the right way?

For the past two years we have used four boxes or squares to help us think about the work we are doing. The organizer has a box for standards, professional practice, data, and culture.  At OCM BOCES Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment we used these categories to align our work and to assist others if they are seeking a focus within one of those categories.  For the coming school year, we will expand that notion to identify which New York State Teaching Standard each regional professional development opportunity aligns with.   Still there are so many directions to go!


To provide direction and focus and to better ensure that we are serving the districts with what they need and to coordinate with in-district work, we ask for input prior to planning any regional events.  Each spring district representatives are asked to complete a survey designed to assist with prioritization and solicitation of direction for CIA .  (These representatives are also encouraged to share the survey within their district and to submit multiples responses to the survey).

So what did we learn this year?

For the first time, responses indicate interest in hybrid and on-line formats as an alternative to in-person gathering. Beyond the format, input assists  in developing a year long calendar of regional professional development opportunities. Topics are clustered into theme areas and then further examined  for more specificity for focus. The priority themes and topics identified are:

  1. Implementation of Common Core Learning Standards:
    • Math 6-8
    • Math 9-12
    • Social Studies
    • ELA 7-12
  2. Common Core Learning Standards and Instructional Shifts
    • Aligning lessons
    • Curriculum analysis and development
    • Design of units that are aligned and adapted from SED ELA and math modules
  3. Century 21 Skills
    • Implementation of C21 within the CCSL
    • Project Based Learning
  4. Supporting Needs of Diverse Learner
    • Strategies for scaffolding learning
    • Classroom Instruction that Works
    • Co-teaching
  5. Professional Learning Communities and Data
    • Use of data to make instructional decisions and changes
    • Developing protocols for looking at student work and assessment data
    • Refining common formative assessments
    • Strategies for formative assessments
    • Criteria to critique assessments.

pict1 pict2

What to expect:

Over the summer, the CI&A website will be undergoing a long and well- deserved overhaul.  Once the site back in place, there will be information on specific regional professional development opportunities aligned with the data mined from the listing above.

This is not enough:

What research demonstrates repeatedly  is that the isolated “sit and get” type of workshops tend not to have the desired impact on teaching practices that result in enhanced learning for students.  The premier learning opportunities come from embedded and sustained efforts (frequently with coaching).  Therefore, please view the regional events as starting points or extension of other study.  All the professional development staff are also experienced and available to work with teachers within their districts and classrooms.

Stephanie Hirsch, Executive Director of Learning Forward discusses the standards for and shared commitment necessary to achieve results from professional development.   In reading her views (based on long career researching effective staff development practices) it seems that she is describing a Professional Learning Community as having promising impact on teaching practices.

Need to know more?

Attend the three day institute this summer July 24-26 at OCM BOCES.  This is a hybrid event streaming a Solution Tree Institute from Orlando to Syracuse.  A networking group will be also convened by the OCM BOCES Network Team.

Radicello_Lynn_WEBLynn Radicello

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