'Data Derby' helps teachers to learn

The building principal came up with a novel way to deliver the information.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Tracking pupil performance data based on achievement test results has been shown to be an effective way to adjust teaching to focus on weak academic areas.
The trick is getting the teaching staff, the front-line in the educational process, familiar with that data.
To help accomplish that, the staff at Paul C. Bunn Elementary School spent time after school Monday "racing" among six stations set up the school gym.
Each station represented a particular report on such things as reading and math performance, the state local report card and parental responses to a survey.
Principal Maria Pappas designed the in-service around a NASCAR theme as a novel way to present the information, calling it the "Data Derby," complete with the sounds of a racing engine to alert teachers when to move to the next station.
Targeting weakness
The goal was to get teachers familiar with what the statistics show and then to brainstorm on ways to target academic weaknesses to improve pupil performance, Pappas said.
Pupils from the former Jackson Elementary School came to Bunn for the first time last year, so the 2005-06 test data will serve as a baseline for the reconfigured student body, she said.
Bunn was rated in "continuous improvement" in the state local report card, she said, noting that the school failed to make adequate yearly progress with some of its subgroups of students based on race and economic status. Those subgroups didn't meet the federal minimum proficiency standards. It was the first time that Bunn failed to meet adequately the yearly progress, she said.
"This year, we are going up," Pappas vowed, noting that "effective" is the next higher report card rating and the immediate target.
Parent survey
The school scored quite high on a parent survey, with 81 percent of parents reporting they are satisfied with the education their children are receiving.
The survey showed that 76 percent believe the school has an excellent learning environment, 94 percent of parents feel welcome at the school and 77 percent would recommend the school to others.
That latter number is believed to be reflective of the fact that Bunn is an old building, Pappas said. It's on the list to be replaced as part of an ongoing 14-building replacement-renovation program in the district.

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