We have worked with many school systems to help them use data to close their achievement gaps. The most effective thing we have seen is to use data to align services. This includes enrolling top scoring students into the most rigorous courses. We have seen that low-income and minority students who score higher than the average scores in the most rigorous STEM classes are often in standard or even remedial courses. We have helped many schools identify these students using data. All schools in North Carolina have access to a data system named EVAAS. EVAAS Academic Preparedness Report is the best way to identify students who are predicted to be successful in the most rigorous courses.
We worked with one middle school where we used EVAAS and identified 100+ overlooked students who should have been in 8th grade algebra. The principal only enrolled the top half (with the highest predictions) of these kids in to algebra. All 50 of the students she put into algebra were successful. 96% of them continued to take advanced math in high school and were successful. In another school, the principal moved into the top track over 100 low-income and minority kids, based on data. They were all successful. We have seen in many school systems that using data to identify students for enrollment into the most rigorous courses raises the schools’ achievement and closes gaps. In many other schools, we simply showed them how to use EVAAS to identify the students likely to be successful. One school increased the number of students in their most rigorous courses four fold. In every case, overall school achievement rose and gaps narrowed significantly.
Beliefs and Skills of the Staff
Having the Skills for Working With Data: None of the schools we worked with had the skills to run EVAAS reports to identify kids who were likely to be successful in the most rigorous courses. So, we did this for them. We also taught them how.
Knowing What Can Be Known: They did not know that they could run an EVAAS report, taking 5 minutes, and get a list of names of the kids who were likely to be successful in advanced courses.
Achievement raises and gaps close. This changes the culture of the schools to enroll low-income and minority students in large numbers into the most rigorous courses. There are a lot of cultural issues to address when this is done. Some schools successfully address those issues and have success. Other schools run into conflict when the most elite parents incorrectly believe the courses must be watered down if low-income and minority students are in them. Stakeholder communication is critical.