A campus-wide data-informed plan is a blueprint or roadmap that describes your goals for improvement as well as the steps you will take to achieve these goals. A data-informed plan uses a range of information: student performance data, literacy needs and expectations, the school’s capacity to support literacy development, current teaching practices, and data on the effectiveness of a research-based literacy program.
Many campuses already have improvement plans that include literacy as well as other goals. In implementing the TSLP, your team will focus on the goals related to literacy. This may become a subset of a larger plan such as a school-wide improvement plan or a literacy-specific plan. In either case, the components of your data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction should include the following:
- Targeted goals
- Steps to accomplish targeted goals
- Multiple data sources
- Interim progress monitoring checkpoints
- Resources to support the goals
- Individuals responsible for monitoring progress towards the goal
- Timelines or deadlines for completing the steps to accomplish targeted goals
A data-informed plan is one part of an effective school-improvement effort. The plan lays out both the priorities for school-improvement activities and a set of specific plans for bringing about the desired changes. The process of creating and implementing a data-informed plan guides the leadership team’s decision making around instruction, programming, and resource allocation. Naturally, one key component of the plan is the data itself. Data sources that may inform your plan include the following:
- Screening – Assessments used to determine the current performance of all students and that identify specific individuals and areas requiring additional intervention
- Diagnostic – Assessments used to diagnose specific areas of strength and need
- Progress monitoring – Assessments used to monitor progress throughout the year (By definition, these will differ from state assessments that are administered only once a year.)
- Outcome – Assessments that evaluate cumulative knowledge (i.e., national standardized assessments and state accountability tests such as State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness [STAAR])
- Language proficiency assessment data (e.g., Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System [TELPAS]) for English learners
- Classroom assessment data such as teacher-developed tests and observation checklists, curriculum-based assessments, homework assignments, class projects, and end-of-unit tests
To make informed decisions, it is critical that you and your campus-based leadership team examine various data sources and ask what those data sources reveal about students’ performance and learning. The scenario that follows demonstrates how to use a questioning approach with data.
Scenario: To ensure effective goals are in place to improve student achievement, the campus-based leadership team at Jones Middle School analyzes its campus data looking for performance gaps and trends at each grade level. The team asks questions such as the following:
- What do you notice about the data?
- Are there significant gaps in our students' understanding or skills?
- To what might poor results be attributed?
- Are some groups of students underperforming others?
- Are there gaps in our sources of data?
- How might we assess other perceived challenge areas?
The campus-based leadership team sees that the STAAR data indicates a need in reading comprehension, but more information is needed, so team members decide to talk to sixth- and seventh-grade teachers about the results and data from their classroom-based measures. Classroom teachers indicate that they think students do well on comprehension tests of texts discussed in class, but many perform poorly when assessed on texts that have not been discussed. Informal surveys and discussions with students give them the impression that a main obstacle to comprehension is vocabulary. The campus leadership team asks the English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) teachers to use their curriculum materials to conduct a screening of vocabulary knowledge for incoming sixth-graders and analyze the results.
In their training from the Texas Adolescent Literacy Academy (TALA), the teachers had learned about the three tiers of words (common words, academic words, and content-specific words). They use this knowledge to analyze the vocabulary assessment results. The teachers find that the students who struggled with reading comprehension on the STAAR have the most difficulty with academic words, also known as Tier II words. As a result, academic vocabulary improvement becomes a targeted goal for the sixth grade.
Extra steps are taken to gather more than only the annual state assessment data. Team members consult informal anecdotal information from teachers, follow-up screening of vocabulary knowledge, and analysis by vocabulary type (e.g., general academic words, content-specific terms). These steps allow the campus-based leadership team and the teachers to narrow their goals and create action steps directly related to students' specific needs.
This multilayered inquiry approach inspires rich conversations among members of the Jones Middle School faculty at all grade levels, not just the one described here. As the campus-based leadership team continues to review and revise the data-informed plan, these rich conversations will guide the faculty in using the plan as outlined in the TSLP.
TO LEARN MORE: You can view a blank-data informed plan template and a compilation of sample plan entries for grades 6–12. You may choose to use the blank template (and modify it as needed) or use a similar template for your data-informed plan.
NEXT STEPS: Depending on your team's progress in creating the data-informed plan for improving literacy instruction, you may want to consider the following next steps:
- Review the format for your data-informed plan to ensure that it includes all the necessary components. (See To Learn More above for a sample template.)
- Identify the data sources you want to use for developing your annual goals, interim progress monitoring checkpoints, and planned actions.
- Collect, organize, and review your data.
- Analyze your data and determine patterns of students' strengths and needs.
- Determine your goals.
- Plan the steps to achieve your goals.
- Determine ways to communicate with teachers and other stakeholders regarding the plan.
- Establish times, dates, and procedures for revisiting the plan regularly.