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Leading Teams with Data Protocols

In this video, the Instructional Leadership Team at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.,  uses protocols to analyze data and identify strategies for effective school improvement.  A data-based culture focused on impact is evident throughout the school. Grade-level teams and even students regularly set goals and create action plans based on data.


- We don’t meet for meeting’s sake, we don’t do structures to just say that we’re doing them, it is critical that we really question what we’re doing all the time.

- I don’t know about your small groups...

- The ILT is the team that’s really gonna push our thinking and when we’re not meeting the mark, I trust them to call me out on it because they’re the voice of my entire staff. We ask a lot of hard questions.

- Overall how are we measuring value added at these programs?

- I get pushed by the members of my ILT, I trust them to push me and to ask questions.

- Is the intensive structure closing gaps, maintaining them, or actually increasing them.

- The answer might not be the answer that I want it to be or it might be something that we really have to think about as an ILT. Data is critical for an instructional leadership team because if we’re making decisions around changing something or tweaking or sustaining a structure, we cannot have a conversation about a structure subjectively without having data at the table to really help guide. One of our topics in January was around the blended learning platforms that we’re using, so we wanted to look at the data that we have over the course of the past three months to really focus on is this working, are these platforms working? No additional pieces, it is just what do you notice about the data? Where is it working better and how can we then leverage that across other grade levels. We’re just gonna go through and popcorn read but read what you typed in but remember, I’m gonna say this without calling anybody out, we’re only doing what we noticed, not any wonders or implications.

- [Woman] Calling yourself out?

- Yes! Just what we noticed, then you can add that in when we come back for the second round, okay? So but let’s start with the first one.

- AA and AB are particularly low in their completion of lessons and I am in charge of those classes.

- [Laina] Okay.

- So I own up to it.

- You don’t have to but just--

- I do, I out myself, I out myself, it’s all right, I’m reflective of my practice.

- During ILT meetings, we try to adhere to protocols because protocols have intentions behind them and those intentions are generally to make sure that everyone has a chance to be heard, that we’re doing things strategically.

- And then for 6A reading plus, they have the lowest percentages for, lessons attempted, lessons passed and average time spent, but they have the highest percentage for the overall post quiz scores.

- We’re doing a protocol where we were strictly noticing something first, you have to, don’t start evaluating things, be objective, see what we notice so that we can then move on and do the thinking behind it but without that part of it, you could send up... your biases could get in the way, you can just start making some assumptions without having pinpointed just the data right in front of you. The relationship between average time spent with the program per week and the percentage of completed assignments. It’s partly about sharing airspace but it’s also about adhering to accurate knowledge.

- And it was interesting that in Imagine Math, October seemed like it was a strong month and I don’t know if it was... nope, ... October was a strong month. Darn it.

- It’s a quick adjustment because if we start jumping ahead before we’ve done the individual thinking, it’s sort of like being in a classroom where you don’t allow think time.

- The next layer is what does the data actually imply?

- So what students’ attitudes are towards these programs, how they affect how they feel about their views of math and reading more longterm.

- Beyond lesson completion, how can we analyze data in an equitable manner? Mmmm. Good one.

- So what were some of the overall implications that we just named?

- There’s differences in implementation, the amount of time that students were in it.

- So we’ve named our observations and our noticings about the data, we’ve talked about some of the implications, what are questions that we need to think about that can help us, like Sam, what you said about John’s conferencing piece and that being effective and having a positive impact, a next step might be how do we leverage that across grade levels.

- [Laina] We’re gonna go through, last round, read your question or a next step statement.

- I was wondering do we need to model going through an actual lesson with students.

- I’m curious if observations of the other two cohorts while they’re working on Imagine Math if that would be eye opening.

- Do we know what teachers are doing in the successful classrooms and what are the best practices?

- So I think it’s important for us to bring these questions back to our team and so that’s numbers data but then another conversation that we had in January was a new structure that we introduced this year around how we use some of our flexible time. We said that we would revisit and look at flex time as a whole structure... --It’s not quantitative data but it was a different type of bringing the voice of the teams and what they’re seeing work or not work with their teams, and so that’s important data to use too. A post-it sort, so we’re gonna do one color post it that names our successes.

- There’s a new thing every year that we’re gonna plant and then we’re gonna watch it grow and we follow that data to inform how we’re gonna change and adjust.

- On the next round, the green that’s coming around, these are what have been some of the challenges. In a realistically ideal world, in a Capital City Middle don’t ask for nothing crazy world, right, like what are, what could help, what are some needs or adjustments that could kind of close the gap between some of the things you named as successes and challenges.

- Anytime we make an adjustment in the school, we start tracking data about it in the fall and then ILT examines it and then that ILT team then takes amongst their teams, they take their findings to their teams. When are we going to sit down with students to make sure they have their data for their student-led conference?

- How do we get students to be able to articulate...

- That’s, yeah. --...their data. Kinda get into the nuances of strategies, what’s effective, what’s not and then what we then do is adjust, we kinda have a cycle of improvement.

- And then I end up being the one that’s explaining the data to the parents when it’s supposed to be a student-led conference... -The phrasing on the script...

- It doesn’t make any sense.

- What is the phrasing in the script, is it clunky? Is it super clunky?

- It’s pretty vague. And it doesn’t really give them anything to go on.

- So just fix the wording on that since you kind of have a vision for it.

- Yeah.

- Of like making it more clear to the kids.

- Looking at data is a big agenda item on our team meeting and making sure that we have evidence to support why we do the things that we do. That translates to the students in a positive way where they don’t feel like they’re just doing things for the sake of doing them. Students really run with the idea of being in control of their data and being able to sit down and do these protocols that they know that their teachers are also doing in their team meetings.

- Data, information, very powerful, more knowledge, more growth, you can teach other people. Analyzing data, we can personally grow as students instead of just sitting there scratching our heads like what are we supposed to do about it.

- We really stress with our students to take risks and to be vulnerable and to ask questions and to focus on their growth. We have to model that with our ILT so that those teacher leaders are then modeling that with their teachers and with their team so that then those teachers are modeling that for their students. It’s a full cycle of risk taking and pushing questions and vulnerability, it has to be.

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