At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, the Hannibal Central School District began to incorporate a research-based approach to planning instruction to increase student achievement, and positive results are already beginning to show.
The district is incorporating data-driven instruction into classrooms, a concept that asks teachers to use results from assessments to drive instructional decision-making.
If three proper components of DDI are in place – assessments, analysis and action – the process can have a positive effect on student achievement, said Christopher Tynan, assistant principal at Kenney Middle School.
Tynan leads a group of educators throughout the district who have been tasked with determining how DDI can benefit each of the district’s three schools.
Tynan said the group, which is currently conducting a book study on a state-approved DDI instructional publication, will meet eight times throughout the school year to update one another on their progress.
The group is comprised of Tynan, two instructors from each school within the district and Shawn Morgan, a district data coordinator.
Tynan said each school also has a subgroup made up of 10 instructors, meaning more than 30 educators throughout the district have devoted time to helping incorporate DDI.
With such overwhelming support coming from faculty, Tynan said the district is already seeing positive results in student development and achievement.
Tynan explained that the district is beginning to set specific goals for students, and students are informed of these expectations while teachers monitor progress.
“Assessments need to be aligned with the standards and benchmarks that students are expected to reach. Transparency is critical, and these goals should be communicated to students so they have an awareness of the levels of performance that they are expected to achieve,” Tynan said.
For DDI to be properly maintained, Tynan said timely scoring of assessments should occur so that results can be analyzed and compared to other data that may exist. After the data is analyzed, conclusions about areas of strength and weakness in student achievement can be determined, and an effective plan of action can be made by instructors.
Tynan noted that for the district to truly achieve its ultimate goal of successfully implementing DDI, each school within the district needs to show improvement in the area of data instruction.
While Tynan noted that each school has a different approach to DDI, the overall concept is the same for each building.
At the elementary level, math coach Stephanie Griffin recently held a lesson for second-grade teachers on how to properly access specific DDI programs to view and update student data.
Griffin said she believes DDI will pay major dividends for the students.
“I feel very strongly that we need to meet the needs of all children,” Griffin stated. “Now we can look at the assessments and determine if students are off target.”
Bev Reyn, a reading teacher at Kenney, has been utilizing DDI to help track the progress her students have been making. Reyn said one of the benefits of DDI is that students can see and feel the progress they’re making throughout the year, describing the process as “success breeding success.”
Teachers at Hannibal High School are also excited to utilize DDI concepts, including Spanish teacher Nicole Erkan.
While Erkan concedes that Spanish isn’t the typical subject associated with data collection, she said that any subject can benefit from DDI.
“Any program can benefit because it’s looking at everything we are doing inside the classroom and thinking about how we can improve,” Erkan said.
With each school within the district implementing some form of DDI, Tynan said it is crucial to understand that the process isn’t meant to catch students or teachers doing something wrong.
Tynan said it is important for all stakeholders to realize that DDI isn’t a “gotcha” system where teachers and students feel like they will be caught doing something wrong and be reprimanded once areas in need of improvement are identified.
“The DDI process is about targeting instruction to meet student needs and adjust teaching methods accordingly,” Tynan said.