How do you interpret mountains of student assessment data?

St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) in Maryland faced the same challenges that many schools across the nation experience every day. They had a mountain of student assessment data that they wanted to use more effectively to influence instruction but the daunting task of managing and analyzing all of the data seemed impossible. To help them make sense of all of their data, SMCPS turned to the Performance Matters Growth Platform.

St. Marys

Data-Driven Decision Making

Before adopting Unify to manage their data, SMCPS stored their student assessment data in spreadsheets that did not allow disaggregation and analysis of the data. In 2015, SMCPS upgraded their original Performance Matters ADMS platform to the new PM Growth Platform in order to more effectively link their assessment data to instructional strategies and curriculum.

With PM Assessment, teachers can use the assessment results to modify instruction or group students according to their level of mastery. According to Regina Hurley Greely, the SMCPS Director of Learning Management, “You can instantly see which students need to be re-taught and which can move forward. The system provides teachers with the ability to create and gain feedback on assessments that are reflective of their classroom instruction.”

In some SMCPS elementary schools, teachers use this data to create revolving groups for math and reading instruction each Friday, based on that week’s assessment results. “A student who wasn’t successful on the standard will go to one classroom for re-teaching, while a student who was successful will go to a different classroom for acceleration or deeper exploration of a standard,” said Greely. “As a result, teachers now feel responsible for the success of all the children who rotate through their classrooms, instead of just the 30 students they regularly have in their class.”

The reports generated through Unify help SMCPS to more effectively target its resources. “If the district-level data shows that students are not mastering a particular standard, we can drill down to school, teacher and student levels to see where we need to provide additional supports or more professional development,” said Greely.

Greely also shared that teachers now have greater control over the assessment process. “Because we can disaggregate data — from the district level to the individual student level — we can better focus our teaching and make the most of our instructional time. We can also focus professional development and resources on those areas where they’ll have the greatest impact.” As a result of their Unify implementations and data-driven decision making, SMCPS has seen an increase in the percentage of students performing at the Proficient and Advanced levels as well as seeing a decrease in the number performing at the Basic Level.

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