As data-driven decision making is increasingly used in education, it’s important to gain insights into the whole child rather than the disparate systems that are typically how data is presented. Early warning and intervention (EWI), college and career readiness (CCR), and social and emotional learning (SEL) programs often collect and use information in silos. However, it is critical that educators are able to bring together this information for a holistic view of their students to make a real impact.
ASCD has been committed to the whole child initiative for almost a decade now. At their annual conference a couple of years ago David Griffith, ASCD Senior Direct of Public Policy, presented on SEL program development. He provided three main recommendations (learn more about the 2016 presentation in this blog post).
- Start with the Child, Not the Measure
“Start off by identifying what is important for your education system to accomplish over time and the outcomes you want for your students. Then use a backwards design process to identify measures, strategies, and the necessary resources to reach your goals.”
- Commit to Continuous Improvement
“Measures should inform everything from policy actions and partnerships to decisions about resources and supports, rather than just using them as a mechanism for punishing low-performing schools.”
- Remember that Compromise Is Inevitable
“The perfect should not be the enemy of the good when it comes to multimetric accountability. Systems should be able to take some calculated risks and experiment with new measures that they deem important, so long as they commit to ongoing analysis and refinement of their measures and are fair minded and sensible in their interpretation of results and how those results are used to evaluate schools and inform improvement.”
While often the term whole child is synonymous with SEL, it is important to acknowledge that SEL data in a silo does not give whole child insight. What I like about these three recommendations is that they go beyond just how social and emotional learning data should be used but are applicable to all information and insights collected about a student. For example, using early warning information such as poor attendance and behavioral incidents in conjunction with SEL competency measurements can be used to inform a more effective intervention strategy.
So how can these often separate systems and processes be brought together?
Holistic insights and collaboration are the two elements that will enable successful data-driven decision making. To make these elements possible educators need a single source of information. To create holistic insight educators will often create spreadsheets that collect data from several sources. However, this is extremely manual taking time and effort away from actually acting based on the insights gleaned. Additionally, collaboration can be difficult if educators are individually creating their own spreadsheets. Technology and infrastructure need to be invested in to provide educators the tools they need. If we expect them to be successful data-driven decision makers, then they need systematic support.
Learn more about empowering educators by measuring the whole child and bringing together disparate data sources in our white paper, Using SEL, CCR, and Early Warning Data to Support the Whole Child.
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