Report Shows Data-Driven Instruction is the Way to Go

By Mary Ann Zehr — May 04, 2007 1 min read
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A report released by EdSource today could provide leverage for adminstrators who are trying to get teachers to buy into the idea that it’s worth their time to examine student test data and use it to make decisions about their teaching. (I can already hear the groans of teachers who worry about losing their creative spirit.)

The study, “Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better?,” marries the results of a survey of California principals and teachers about their practices in educating English-language learners with how well their English-language learners perform in California’s accountability system.

Interestingly, the index for how well English-language learners are performing includes those who have been enrolled in California schools for one year or more, as well as former English-learners who have been reclassified as fluent in English. (Aside: some advocates of English-learners propose that the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act should do the same.)

The researchers found that elementary schools where the principal and school district extensively used test data to improve instruction and student learning had higher achievement of English-learners in the state’s accountability system. It also helped if the school’s curriculum and instruction were “coherent” and aligned with state standards, according to the study.

Here are a few reasons you should pay attention to this study: it was conducted by a team that includes some very respected people in the field, such as Kenji Hakuta from Stanford University; it’s a study of schools in the state that enrolls the most English-language learners and also has considerable experience with such students; and the sample of school districts, schools, teachers, and principals apparently is unusually large--and representative of schools in California.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.