I’m delighted and excited to have been invited recently as a panelist at September’s annual US DoE’s  Office of Non-Public Education-Office of Improvement and Innovation’s Private School Leadership Conference (that is a mouthful).  I’ve been invited to present on the topic of “aligning data collection with school mission.”

Regular readers here know I have long used this forum to advocate for the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) and the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE); speaking at this event to an audience of influential private school educators and association executives will give me a great opportunity to carry forward my advocacy.

It is also a chance to think more, more thoroughly, more deeply about the panel’s helpful title and framing. I hadn’t myself focussed squarely enough until now  upon the simple but elegant and critically important concept of “aligning data collection with school mission,” but that is of course exactly what I am circling around and trying to get more fully in focus.  I will be developing my remarks and presentation over the next few weeks, and I will certainly share/post it here, but here is a first stab at summarizing my thesis:

Most of us who are leading in private and independent education place high priority, in our educational missions and throughout our school cultures, upon three core goals:

  • upon delivering and achieving personalized and differentiated teaching and learning which has a significant and positive impact improving the educational progress of individual learners of a wide range of abilities, maintaining a focus upon the individual and not the mass of learners;
  • upon forging and sustaining a connected community of engaged, active, intrinsically motivated, extracurricularly involved, technologically employing, hard-working learners;
  • and upon  the significant growth of not only our students’ basic skills, but also their higher order thinking skills, including critical thinking, written communication, and creative problem-solving.

And yet, none of the common measurements we use– ERB scores, SAT scores, or college admissions/enrollment–  give us very meaningful or significant data on any of these three core and key goals.

However, we should delight in the fact that there have come on-line in recent years a new trio, a new valuable trinity, of powerful and empowering national assessment tools, each of them aligned with and providing valuable data for schools and for school improvement on each of the three core and (among many, most or all independent and private schools) common goals.

The MAP, the Measurement of Academic Progress, allows us to gather efficiently, multiple times a year, the academic achievement of each individual student and gives us in real-time, not delayed, the information and gap analysis we need to meet a wide range of learners’ needs and improve each learner’s performance.

The HSSSE surveys students annually, asking them whether they feel engaged in their learning and at their schools, whether they feel safe, in good rapport with fellow students and teachers, motivated to learn, active in their school community, and finding leadership and collaboration opportunities at school.    Schools get results that compare their individual results to the full sampling, allowing for comparison analysis to determine areas for focused improvement.

The CWRA tests students in fall of their 9th grade and spring of 12th grade, in an open-ended, non-multiple choice, authentic assessment of their problem solving, critical thinking, and written communication skills, via a test format called performance assessment.

By use of these three, we can measure our success at exactly the things which are most important to us, and we can use the data collected to improve our performance at these things.  Let’s get going.  (visit here for an excellent NAIS article on the topic, with featured summaries of each of these three, MAP, HSSSE, and CWRA).

I welcome and invite blog visitors and readers to use the leave a comment box to give me input, supportive quotes, or examples to assist me in preparing the presentation.   (and if you know folks attending the event, encourage them to come to my panel!).