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Once we were helping a Title 1 elementary school write it’s School Improvement Plan.  We started by using their school data to make a Data Profile for them, so they could visualize their school in terms of data.  We inventoried the remedial programs and services they already offered, and helped them identify clearly who the target group was for each of them in terms of data.  We wanted to determine whether services were aligned to student needs in terms of data.  They had no over-arching records of which students got which services.  All the adults kept their own records their own way.  The person running each program or service knew who they served, but many of them couldn’t produce a list. They had files on each student.

We helped them put together a master data set of all services, and which students got them. They tried at first when we told them this was needed but they soon learned they didn’t have any staff with the proper skill set.  So, we did this for them.  We created an electronic file that contained all programs, information about who the target group was for them, which students were in those programs, and their relevant data.  From this data set, we could see that many students who were scoring at or above grade level were getting pulled from core courses to receive remedial services that they did not need.  Some students were receiving the same service twice, from two different staff members.  Many students who were in the target group for services were not getting them.

They decided that before starting any new programs or initiatives, they would use this information to get the students aligned with the proper services, and stop providing services to students who did not need them. They would also start using our record-keeping system so that they would have a big picture of who was getting what services that they could compare with the data.

Beliefs and Skills of the Staff

Knowing What At-Risk Means: Many of the students who were getting remedial services were getting them because they were poor. When the principal saw the academic data in terms of who was getting remedial services, she stopped this.  The Title 1 staff at the school argued at first that the poor kids were supposed to get these services, but the principal said the top scoring poor kids would no longer be getting remedial services.

How to Identify Kids to Align Services: They did not have the ability to run an electronic search to find the kids who fit a data profile that aligned with a service.  They had Edstar do that for them.


They started no new programs, services, or initiatives. They simply got the services aligned, stopped providing remedial services to kids who did not need them and did provide them to those who did.  They kept standard records so they could easily see who got what.  This took them until mid-year to get everything straight.  At the end of the year, the percentage of kids scoring at grade level or above increased by 22%, and the achievement gap narrowed by 11%.  They had the data required to be able to tell which of their programs were effective.  Edstar helped them look at the results, and they then wrote their School Improvement Plan to do more of what was working for them, and less of what didn’t move the needle.  The principal became data savvy, and so did some of her staff.