data analysis

Making Sense of the Data Madness

Guest post Ryan Rismiller


As I make plans for the upcoming school year, I review our school data. Though we’ve made considerable progress, the data says we’re not where we need to be. Despite our school team’s tireless efforts, we need to do more to narrow the achievement gap, raise graduation rates, improve math and English proficiency, and more. Frustrated, I ask myself, what more can we do to move the needle when it comes to our data?  (more…)

Using Data to Create a Culture of Student Accountability

Guest post by David S. Ellena, principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield, VA

Tefft Middle School has 835 students in grades seven and eight. They have a highly diverse student body, yet have achieved remarkable results on state standardized testing. Lavonne Smiley and her staff attribute these results to the culture of transparency with data and accountability from all stakeholders. Here are some things that they do to create a culture of success. (more…)

Re-Framing the Narrative

Guest post by Michael Hannon:

It can be easy to overlook specific student populations when the overall student body seems to be doing well. When important metrics have met yearly progress goals, college-going rates are high, and the local National Honor Society chapter has an awesome incoming cohort, it warrants appropriate acknowledgement and celebration. That celebration cannot happen in lieu of school leaders taking steps to more deeply understand the students who may NOT be meeting yearly progress goals, who may NOT be confident in their post-secondary career or educational plans, or who may NOT be eligible for National Honor Society. It’s even more disconcerting if or when those students generally align to a certain racial or ethnic profile.

Many African-American and Latino male students confront educational challenges that school leaders can take an active role in addressing, mitigating, and hopefully eliminating in their school communities. Some of those challenges include overrepresentation in special education, underrepresentation in student leadership/extracurricular activities, overrepresentation in disciplinary referrals, and underrepresentation in honors and/or advanced placement courses. One important question for principals and other school leaders is: “What are we doing about these trends?”

Supporting African-American and Latino male students has been especially rewarding in my career as an educator. The opportunity to engage with them as their counselor is filled with moments of extreme satisfaction, and, at times, significant challenge. Making connections while visiting classes, conferencing with parents, and facilitating student-teacher meetings to clarify misunderstandings have all been par for the course as a high school counselor. This work, OUR work, is not for the faint of heart. School leaders, especially those in principal, assistant principal, and supervisor roles, assume the mantle of leadership to facilitate the educational success of ALL students, including those who are most vulnerable.

One of the best pieces of advice a principal mentor shared with me as a school counselor was to treat every students as if he or she were my own. That is, if a student is acting inappropriately, I should address him or her with the same concern (and intensity) I would if he or she was my own child. If a student isn’t taking advantage of opportunities, I should support him or her in identifying and experiencing those opportunities the same way I would if he or she was my own child.

The Narratives of Success session at Ignite’14 in Dallas will help school leaders gain insight into what over 400 African-American and Latino male students report are the most supportive educational practices and attitudes by school leaders that help them be successful in high school. Their reflections are thoughtful, timely, and noteworthy. I’m excited—and I hope you are, too.

Michael Hannon (@mdhannon) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of School Psychology, Counseling, and Leadership at Brooklyn College. He will be presenting Narratives of Success: School Leadership Implications from the NYC Black & Latino Male Achievement at Ignite ’14 on Saturday, February 8.

The Role of School Leaders in the NCAA Eligibility Process

Guest post by Nicholas Sproull:

There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes and almost all of them will go pro in something other than sports…” Sure, the tagline of the NCAA public service announcement is designed to be catchy, but the message is clear: College graduation matters. NCAA data show that the best predictor of college graduation is first-year success. So what is the best predictor of first-year success? And more to the point, what does this have to do with secondary school principals?

Since 1994, the NCAA has collected data for nearly 2 million prospective student-athletes, including individual course titles, course grades, course credits and SAT/ACT scores. Since 2003, the NCAA has collected college-level academic data from over 100,000 Division I student-athletes per year. Combined, this national sample provides the NCAA Research staff with a warehouse of data to follow the trajectories of students’ academic performance from the ninth grade through departure from a Division I or Division II college or university.

The NCAA academic initial-eligibility requirements for Divisions I and II exist to help ensure that prospective student-athletes are academically prepared for the rigors they will face when they become NCAA student-athletes.

The NCAA Eligibility Center is the division of the NCAA national office responsible for working with the nation’s 40,000 high schools to ensure that the annual academic certification process is as efficient and effective as possible for the nearly 100,000 students who will become Division I or Division II student-athletes. (Until November 2007, this process was managed by the NCAA Clearinghouse, run by ACT Inc.)

Additionally, the Eligibility Center staff is actively engaged in education and outreach efforts related to increased academic initial-eligibility requirements for Division I coming in 2016. Now more than ever, ninth grade academic performance is of paramount importance.

Because these changes will impact current high school sophomores and beyond, it is vitally important for school leaders to be equipped with an understanding of these new rules and have a plan in place for spreading the word. With the support of school leaders, the NCAA’s aim is to ensure that prospective student-athletes’ desire to participate in intercollegiate athletics is not imperiled by insufficient or inaccurate information.

Nick Sproull (@nsproull) serves as Associate Director of High School Review/Policy for the NCAA. He will be presenting NCAA Eligibility Center: Overview and Updates at Ignite ‘14 on Saturday February 8.

Building G.R.E.A.T. Schools: Data Informing our Vision of Success

Guest post by Ronald Davis:

The demands on successful principals can be exhilarating and staggering at the same time. Without refined and enhanced leadership skills, principals can struggle to move their schools’ performance to levels that will benefit all of the students they serve.

There is an expectation that principals will have mastery of instructional, organizational, and public leadership skills. Therefore, developing principals’ leadership capacity and organizational skills is critical in helping them meet the challenging demands being placed on school leaders.

“Building G.R.E.A.T. Schools: Data Informing our Vision of Success” is designed to provide school leaders with a G.R.E.A.T. framework – including Goals, Roles, Expectations, Attitude, and Tools. The G.R.E.A.T. framework, in conjunction with the principles of distributive leadership and systemic reform practices, helps bring about positive change in a school’s culture.

Additionally, this Ignite ’14 session will emphasize the importance of using data when making instructional decisions, at both the classroom and building levels, and provide a framework through which this analysis can occur. The framework includes data identification, analysis/discovery, and solution identification. Goal considerations include improvement vs. proficiency, short vs. medium vs. long-term, and need to be started vs. need to be continued vs. should be stopped. Attendees will be provided with a planning matrix with which they can develop 3-5 action items applicable to their individual schools and organizations. Closing comments in the session will center around the importance of managing the complex change process.

Ronald Davis will be presenting at Ignite ’14.  Join him for Building G.R.E.A.T. Schools: Data Informing our Vision of Success on Friday, February 7. For more information and to register visit

A Principal’s Guide to Special Education

Guest post by David Bateman:

I sincerely wish there was not a need for this presentation in Dallas. I wish that ALL students learned their subject matter easily, that no students had difficulty getting along with others, and that no students had disabilities preventing them from fully participating in school. I also wish that all teachers understood exactly what they needed to do for students who struggle with learning, and that parents of students with disabilities understood their roles and responsibilities in making sure all students receive a sound education.

But this is not the case. There are students who have great difficulty with learning. There are students who require aides or paraprofessionals to make it through the day, and there are students who will require life-long supports. There are also teachers who do not want to work with students with disabilities because of concerns that such students may get in the way of their lessons or take more time than other students to learn material.

Students with disabilities do no wake up every morning thinking about ways to make the jobs of educators more difficult. This presentation at NASSP is based on a book designed to help principals meet the needs of students with disabilities, and to make sure the services necessary are provided. It is also designed to help principals lead teachers, work with parents, and understand the different rules relating to discipline that apply specifically to students with disabilities. I realize many principal training programs do not include much specific content related to students with disabilities, and this book is designed to help fill that void.

The book is organized around eight very important themes. Each theme will be addressed in greater detail in the presentation and in the book.

  1. The principal is responsible for the education of all children in the school
  2. The principal needs to know special education
  3. The principal needs to make sure that staff know what is necessary for special education
  4. The principal needs to check on staff to make sure they are implementing services for students with disabilities
  5. The principal should lead efforts for data collection
  6. The principal should make sure ALL staff are aware of the process for identification of students with disabilities
  7. The principal may have to lead meetings related to services for students with disabilities
  8. The principal needs to know all students in the building and be ready to talk about them.

David Bateman will be presenting A Principal’s Guide to Special Education: Helping All Students on Saturday, February 8th at Ignite ’14.  For more and to register, visit


Keys to Differentiating Instruction Using Technology-Based Formative Assessments

Guest post by G.A. Buie:

Student homework has been a cornerstone for learning and evaluation for years. Even in our technology-driven classrooms, for students who are diligent and engaged in the learning process homework can be an effective method of evaluating their progress as well as a teacher’s instructional effectiveness. Unfortunately, not all students are diligent and engaged, and though the problems related to assigning homework have changed, the process of assigning homework hasn’t. Teachers are encountering a shrinking number of students completing their assigned homework—and, even if it’s completed, teachers must question whether the work is original or copied. As a result, homework becomes a very ineffective tool to evaluate a student’s progress.

With student and teacher accountability at a premium in today’s educational environment, it is imperative that teachers have a method of measuring a student’s progress and his or her understanding of content. Waiting for the summative assessment is too late; teachers need a tool that doesn’t take away from instructional time, yet doesn’t add to an already heavy teaching load.

Teachers need quick results that measure curricular objectives, and at times they need to be able to develop those activities on the spot. At Ignite ’14, we will explore a wide variety of technology-based formative assessment ideas which can be used in almost any classroom. These tools will be designed to gather valuable data for the teacher almost instantaneously, thus allowing the teacher the opportunity to differentiate their classroom using multiple forms of data. Best of all, these ideas can be implemented on any budget with tools already available to most schools or students.

G.A. Buie (@gabuie31) is the president-elect of NASSP. He will present at the Ignite 2014. For more information and to register visit