Next month, as previously mentioned here, I am presenting at the US DoE’s Annual Private School Leadership Conference, on the topic of  Aligning Data and School Mission.   They have asked me to speak particularly about HSSSE, the High School Survey of Student Engagement:  I will also discuss CWRA, the College Work Readiness Asssessment,  and MAP, the Measurement of Academic Progress.

In preparation, I am doing some researching to learn more about HSSSE, which we have administered here at St. Gregory since 2009.   On Friday, I had a terrific hour-long conversation with Ethan Yazzie-Mintz, HSSSE’s ED, and he offered me a set of resources that I am now reviewing, and will be sharing and discussing on my blog this week.

I have also launched HSSSE user groups on two nings, both on ise-net for independent school educators and at EDU-PLN for the broader audience.

Ethan is portrayed in the video above, which is a nice gentle introduction to the administration at one public high school in Indiana. At this school, they had received a grant to update instructional strategies, the principal explains, and HSSSE gave data to them about how students viewed learning.   Their focus was the classroom, and it is good to hear the results they got were motivation to update teaching to more research based current practice.

Ethan speaks to the aggregate data, data that should worry us all.  Students are bored in school, they don’t find it interesting, they don’t find it relevant.

It is good for me to see Ethan say that schools are beginning to do more with the data than collect them as snapshots; they are beginning to use the results, and track their progress, to improve their students’ learning.

Curiously to me, this school is using their HSSSE data to inform their development of student advising and an advisory program, which is exactly the case for us too at St. Gregory.   But then he goes on beyond that, the principal, to say something really great: that students are telling them what is and isn’t working for them in the teaching techniques, “and we are beyond being defensive about this, now we are thinking maybe they have a point.” (!)

As much as I appreciate this video, and gladdened as I am by its opening the door to HSSSE uses, it does remain a bit too generic.  I realize the youtube format is limiting and constrained by time, but I know all of us who use it need to press on for more specifics.   In the next few days I will post 3 or 4 more times more insights I have gained as I review HSSSE materials.