Portraits in Partnership: Chicago Digs Into Data

Portraits in Partnership: Chicago Digs Into Assessment DataKatie Magnuson is the assistant principal of Skinner North Classical Elementary, which is one of five schools offering a “classical” instructional program in the Chicago Public Schools. Skinner North has a selective admissions process, and students experience an accelerated liberal arts curriculum with a focus on literature, math, language arts, world language and the humanities. Approximately 370 students currently attend in grades K-6.

Katie knows that supporting and improving teaching with data is a complex and ongoing process – and one that’s well worth the results it can help teachers and students achieve.

She and her colleagues at Skinner North are particularly interested in personalizing instruction, targeting interventions and working together as instructional teams. They use Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) interim assessment from NWEA along with a host of other assessment tools (including Lexile, district-created benchmarks, teacher-created assessments, and other assessments embedded in curriculum) throughout the school year to inform their efforts.

Skinner North students take MAP (or, in the case of kindergartners, first graders and second graders, MAP for Primary Grades or MPG) at key intervals through the year. Katie leads teams of teachers in looking at data from MAP and other assessments to inform individual and class instructional plans.

“The team approach to data analysis makes a big difference,” she notes. “We start by looking at general trends for each class. How are students performing in each subject? To what extent are they improving as a whole?”

Katie’s teams and professional learning communities in the school collectively identify areas for growth at the student and classroom level. “In some cases, entire classes are struggling with a particular concept and teachers have decided to develop new units,” she notes. “We also use assessment data to create small instructional groups based on ability levels. For us, MAP is a big key to differentiation. Recently, we used the DesCartes Learning Continuum and Lexile to create scope and sequencing for literature instruction focused on specific skills where students needed additional help.”

Skinner North SchoolSkinner North teachers also use MAP and MPG data to identify students needing significant help and build intervention plans. “We include multiple data points and decide what supports each student needs to grow and achieve,” says Katie. Teachers bring their own insights alongside assessment data to inform this planning and to track student growth.

As students mature, they’re encouraged to take a more active role in directing their learning. “We help students in grades 4, 5 and 6 set goals based on their mid-year MAP scores. They really respond to the opportunity to set targets and take ownership for their learning. They learn how to self-analyze MAP reports and the process increases buy-in among students. More than anything, they’re excited to see the growth they’re making throughout the year,” says Katie.

Data is becoming a common reference point not only within the school walls but in the community more broadly, Katie notes. “We share MAP information with parents along with different resources for working on particular skills at home. Parents are responding positively, and many also appreciate having another piece of information to use in conversations with teachers,” she reflects.

Ultimately, Skinner North families rely on the educators working with their children every day to help them grow and achieve to their fullest potential. Under Katie’s leadership, teachers are sharpening and refining a toolkit—driven by expertise, professional insight, and data—that supports every students’ success.