CMS shows that that student achievement and teacher effectiveness improved with a metrics-based approach to education
AUSTIN, Texas (February 7, 2012) - The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation today released a report detailing the impact of the performance-driven education initiative to improve teacher effectiveness and student performance in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) school district middle schools. The report demonstrates how CMS is helping to improve education and making significant progress in closing the “achievement gap”.
CMS represented a growing problem in America’s educational system. Public schools in wealthier areas continued to attract the better teachers, provide more resources and generally optimize the overall experience of the students. The gap between scores from students in these schools, and lower socioeconomic schools that could not afford such advantages – deemed the “achievement gap” – began to widen significantly.
To address this gap, CMS embarked on a new metrics-based approach to improving student outcomes and teacher performance. It also moved from a top-down management strategy to a more decentralized strategy called “freedom and flexibility with accountability.” The approach relied heavily on data and metrics to evaluate and reward high-performing schools and staff. Schools that performed well became more autonomous, while less successful schools remained subject to continued oversight and control.
“We’ve all heard the heart-breaking numbers that demonstrate the disparities in education outcomes between higher-income and low-income students and between white students and students of color,” said Kevin Byrne, Director, US Education at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “But when you see the difference that data can make in empowering teachers and administrators to not only understand where the disparities lie, but to also take action to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement, the negative statistics start to lose their power. We can help these schools and students if we create a culture of accountability and academic excellence.”
Two key steps the district took to help implement these changes were to invest in the tools and to foster a culture to support change. Under the new “freedom with flexibility and accountability” management model, individual school leaders were tasked with using data to improve school performance. In doing so, they specifically needed to build a professional educational culture in which data fostered collaboration, informed teaching and enabled more strategic, personalized instruction for each student. In essence, school leaders began systematically using data to improve school performance.
As a result, the district saw substantial improvement in some key areas. Whereas the academic performance of CMS’ minority and low-income students had previously been significantly below that of their peers, CMS students began outperforming similar students across the state. Moreover, on almost every measure of academic scorekeeping from standardized testing to Advanced Placement enrollment and performance to vocational testing, the district saw students make substantial strides. In the fall of 2011, the district was awarded the national Broad Prize for Urban Education for demonstrating substantial academic gains in a large, urban school district.
In spite of some challenges, such as a need for uniform teacher training, by the end of the 2010-2011 school year, CMS had built a culture where data had become a critical part of education.
“As a school we’ve learned so much about data and about how important it is that we’re goal oriented with the kids,” notes Judy Fahl, then principal of Irwin Avenue Open Elementary.
CMS now functions to improve student achievement through the use of data that it is actively collecting and analyzing. While the district is constantly reviewing and identifying opportunities for improvement, its experience offers substantial proof that the use of data can improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness in middle schools.
To view the full report online, go to http://bit.ly/wZsAy0.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District is one of many large, urban school districts that the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is working with to build a culture of performance-driven education. In addition, the foundation is collaborating with leading state education agencies to back a new data standard that can deliver comprehensive student information to every teacher across the U.S. The free resource, called Ed-Fi, facilitates secure data exchange among disparate data systems in the K-12 education sector and puts the transformative power of information in the hands of educators when and where they need it most: their classrooms.
About the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org ) is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, TX and New Delhi, India, and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $825 million to global children’s issues and community initiatives to date.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is separate and distinct from the Dell Foundation. In any first reference, please use the ‘Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.’ For second references, ‘the Dell family foundation’ may be used.
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