Using Student Learning Data to Foster a Growth Culture

Attacking learning gaps proactively and in time to make a difference

“State assessments are like an autopsy: the data is useful, but it doesn’t help the patient.” Let that sink in for a minute.

That autopsy metaphor was part of presenter Amy Dodson’s opening remarks in a recent EdWebinar entitled, Using Student Learning Data to Foster a Growth Culture.” Amy is the blended learning director for the Cisco Independent School District (ISD), a rural Texas community, two hours west of Dallas, that serves approximately 940 students.

Two years ago, the district began implementing a three-year blended learning initiative with the goal of elevating all elementary and middle school students to their own individual high levels of academic achievement in both math and science. As Cisco ISD heads into year three, Dodson is excited about the results they’re seeing and eager to share their framework for success.

In this popular webcast, Dodson was joined by assessment specialist Robyn Sturgeon and DreamBox director of curriculum and reporting David Woods. Together, they presented Cisco ISD’s six steps for creating a data-informed culture, nicely recapped here on the NWEA blog.

Now that you know the background, let’s take a deeper dive into what’s behind that “autopsy” analogy. With so much focus on data these days, it’s easy to lose sight of the patient, or in this case, the student. The fact is there’s no point to assessing a student’s performance if you’re not going to use the findings to continuously improve learning.

Prior to launching the Raising Blended Learners (RBL) program, Cisco ISD didn’t have access to truly “actionable” data to meet students at their level. Sure, they had data from the STAAR exam, Texas’s annual state-mandated assessment, but that’s just a snapshot of a student’s performance one day out of the year. By the time you get and analyze the data, it’s almost too late to act on it, or make a tangible difference in an individual student’s learning.

Now, as part of their blended learning initiative, Cisco ISD gives the NWEA MAP® Growth™ test three times a year. Then they use that data to measure what students know and to inform what they’re ready to learn next. And, that’s a model that correlates nicely with DreamBox’s Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ platform.

In fact, by the end of this month, DreamBox teachers in Cisco ISD and everywhere will be able to use NWEA MAP Growth results to create differentiated assignments for individual students right from DreamBox. That’s because DreamBox now connects to NWEA MAP Growth and an expanding list of K-8 core math programs to improve student learning.

By continuously assessing student performance, Cisco teachers are identifying gaps early and implementing measures to address them before they grow. They’re also leveraging real-time data from DreamBox to meet students precisely where they are. Find out how teachers in the Texas RBL program are using actionable data from NWEA and DreamBox to differentiate classroom instruction and boost student achievement.

Kristen Ramaley

Kristen Ramaley

Director of Marketing at DreamBox Learning
Kristen is a strong believer in the idea that every student learns differently and has spent the past 8 years working in edtech exploring different approaches to teaching and learning. When she is not behind a computer engaging with educators, she can be found hiking in the mountain passes surrounding her native city of Seattle, or on her paddle board with her furry companion Isla.
Kristen Ramaley