National Experts, Local Leaders Discuss Common Core Data During Webinar

By Joetta Sack-Min

As testing data tied to high standards and Common Core State Standards comes to fruition in numerous states, the Learning First Alliance brought together a panel of national, state and local education leaders for a webinar to discuss how to use this new data to improve teaching and learning. The Sept. 22 event was part of LFA’s “Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core” national campaign.

The Common Core standards give researchers and educators an unprecedented opportunity to glean rich information and use that data to follow students over time and find ways to improve teaching and learning, said Aimee Guidera, president and CEO of the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign.

“Data needs to be at the beginning of the story, not the end, that’s the part of the conversation we need to reset,” she said.

Ms. Guidera noted numerous issues for educators to build their understanding of data and how it should impact their work:

  • Data is not just about releasing test scores, we need to ensure people understand that test score, what it tells us, and why it matters;
  • We must figure out how to present this data in the context of all information that should be collected on students’ learning;
  • We also should focus on accessibility of data and how to best get this information to parents and others;
  • We must change the culture of thinking about data as hammer to a culture that values data as tool for continuous improvement;
  • We should not put data on shelf, we should use it to use to change conversations and decisionmaking.

Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance described his district’s approach to ushering in higher standards. The district has set up detailed communications reports to help explain a student’s yearly progress to parents.

Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, discussed ways that the state has partnered with the University of California higher education system to relate high school curriculum and college entry requirements. Students must take a prescribed set of high school courses, now aligned to Common Core standards, to be eligible for admission to the University of California system.

California has not had much opposition to the CCSS implementation, he added, because the messaging has been, “If you’re fighting Common Core, you’re fighting higher education.”

Mr. Kirst, along with other panelists, called for patience in implementation. Moderator Deborah Delisle, executive director and CEO of ASCD, noted that data should never be used as a “blame game” but must be used for continuous improvement.

LFA will post an archive of “Let’s Talk Data: What Common Core Test Results Tell Us About Teaching and Learning” within the next few days.