Just two years ago, Cisco Independent School District in Texas was “starting at ground zero with data, blended learning, and personalized learning,” according to Amy Dodson, the district’s director of instruction. But using a methodical and inclusive approach, Cisco hit fast-forward on their data use and implemented a data-driven approach to learning.
How did they do it? Dodson shared their 6 steps for creating a data-informed, growth culture in a recent webinar from Dreambox Learning and NWEA. (Dreambox is an instructional partner of NWEA. Educators can use MAP Growth results to create targeted, differentiated assignments with Dreambox Learning Math™, a K-8 digital math program powered by students, built by and for educators, and independently proven to positively impact student achievement.)
6 steps for creating a data-informed, growth culture
- Think Big. Have honest conversations and evaluations of the tools currently in place. Identify the outcomes you want to achieve and the places you are seeing gaps. Dodson says, “Start with the teachers – they are the experts on their classes. Where do they think the gaps are?” At Cisco, some teachers told Dodson that the gaps were for the high-achieving students. They weren’t growing enough, and teachers didn’t feel like they had enough time to focus on them.
- Train Well… and then train again. For Cisco, that meant committing to professional learning for both MAP Growth and general data literacy. And importantly, Dodson recommends giving teachers time to implement what they’ve learned. “It takes time to develop a model where there is support for data use in each building,” she notes.
- Action. As Dodson says, “Don’t give an interim growth assessment and not use the data!” Take action. For Cisco, Dreambox is a critical component for using their data in creating personalized math assignments. Make the actions something relevant, based on real student data.
- Up and down the academic ladder. Identify where students are and where they are behind; this requires transparency about struggles. “We wanted to catch the gaps early,” Dodson says. “And not have kids getting to fourth or fifth grade only to realize we wished we’d caught something earlier.” Create a partnership with your teachers and listen to students. Some Cisco teachers implemented “student data chats” to help identify problems and engage students in their learning.
- Rinse, wash, repeat. Data use is a cycle, not something to be done once. Developing trust and ongoing support with teachers was critical. “We had to be iterative,” Dodson notes. A few Cisco teachers began using self-evaluation strategies with students to check their understanding in an ongoing way. “Then a teacher can look for trends or groups to pull aside and work on something,” Dodson adds.
- Culture change. How do you know if you’re creating change in your district? Dodson encourages everyone to look for signs of a growth mindset, “where even the students speak data,” she notes. Students are taking ownership of their learning, and as Dodson says, the district is moving from data-driven instruction to data-driven learning.
Hear the full story of how they created a vision for change at Cisco Independent School District in the recorded webinar.