The DeHavilland Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Can good data drive school performance?

In my last post, I highlighted one of the primary applications of the Education Consumer Foundation's new School Performance Charts: comparing your elementary or middle school to others in your district. Users can also compare their school or district against others in the state, against the 1998 Growth Standard, or against the current state average. (To try this yourself, go to the elementary or middle chart and give it a spin.)

While this is a tremendous step forward by itself, there's even more here for those with some insider knowledge - people like Mike Cohen, who served with the Knox County Schools as Communications Director at the time when Bill Sanders was piloting his value-added system in that district. Mike pointed out that Knox County, as the pilot site for this innovative model, really bought into the system and continues to actively use that data to drive student achievement - and it's made a real difference in the performance of schools in the county.

Does the School Performance Chart bear that out? Let's compare the Nashville elementary schools (from the last post) to elementary schools in Knox County. Here are the Davidson County/Nashville schools again:

And here's Knox County, pilot site and ongoing proactive user of value-added data:

Comparing the two makes a pretty compelling case: Davidson County's schools range across the spectrum, while Knox County schools are far more concentrated at the upper range of performance. Seems pretty clear that good data, used well, can drive student achievement.

Coming tomorrow: can Title I schools be highly effective?


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