4 actions power educators’ student data collaborations

'Everybody is aware of their data' in the Pass Christian School District, chief academic officer says
By: | May 7, 2021
A teacher shows a student his data dashboard in Mississippi's Pass Christian School District.A teacher shows a student his data dashboard in Mississippi's Pass Christian School District.

For educators, a fine line exists between admiring student data and using it to collaborate around accelerating instruction.

That’s why central office and building leaders in the Pass Christian School District in Mississippi meet regularly to take deep dives into their data, drilling down from a district-wide perspective to the status of individual students.

“We refer to it as going from a telescope to a microscope,” says Patty Cooper, chief academic officer of the district that’s routinely among Mississippi’s highest-rated. “We look at the big picture from a very wide lens, and during the meetings with zoom in, zoom in, zoom in all the way down the student level.

Cooper and Superintendent Carla Evers meet quarterly with building principals and their teams to set goals by digging into the data and developing action plans for student success.


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Here are the four key steps in the process:

1. Assess: Pass Christian gives all students evidence-based assessments, though they different screeners for K-8 and for high school students. One key is that the screeners not only measure academic performance. They also track attendance and behavioral issues, Cooper says.

2. Aggregate: Since starting this approach four years ago, Pass Christian administrators have shifted from using unwieldy to School Status‘ automated data analytics systems.

The software features a dashboard that allows administrators to spend much less time pulling data together and more time analyzing and taking action, Cooper says.

3. Analyze: Building teams take the lead in analyzing data, and share their findings with Evers and Cooper, so the team can ask questions and begin determining where the district is meeting standards and where it is falling short.

Leaders also examine data for subgroups of students, including the lowest 25% of performers.

'Everybody is aware of their data' in the Pass Christian School District, chief academic officer says

‘Everybody is aware of their data’ in the Pass Christian School District, chief academic officer says

4. Act: When data is not trending in the right direction, the team can then begin supporting teachers in making adjustments to instruction.

For instance, the team will look at the resources or texts that are being used to teach a particular standard to determine if additional or different materials are needed.

Collaboration tips for other leaders

Pass Christian’s state accountability rating has been rising over the past three years.

And even though the state is not enforcing its accountability system during the pandemic, Pass Christian’s administrators are watching their internal accountability systems to see if any gaps emerge between students or groups of students, Cooper says.

She encourages other leaders to start the data collaboration process with evidence-based screeners and assessments, and not to analyze only a single source of data—such as academic performance.

The key is then having an efficient system for turning that analysis into action, Cooper says.

“Principals have individual data meetings with teachers, and teachers had individual data meetings with students,” she says. “Everybody is aware of their data, and it becomes a part of the district culture.”