The stories behind school data dashboards

Board President's Note: The stories behind school data dashboard
Posted on 11/26/2018
Trautwein kindergarten studentsBy Samantha Stormer, president of the Mehlville Board of Education

Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, Mehlville principals are sharing their school’s data dashboard presentations at Board of Education meetings. While the presentations are packed with numbers and charts, our principals are placing a heavy emphasis on the stories behind the data, and how the data shapes their strategies. These are powerful presentations that help me, fellow board members and the community understand the successes and challenges faced by each of our 19 schools. So far this year, we have heard from four schools.

Trautwein Elementary shared that one in five of their students are learning the English language, and one in five receive special education services. These students have achievement gaps as compared to their peers. As a result, Trautwein staff are using co-teaching as a strategy to better support these students. Also, to help make sure kindergartners have the best start possible, Trautwein used flexible placement. Students entering kindergarten did not know who their teacher would be on the first day this year. Instead, they were team-taught while teachers got to know them and determined appropriate classroom placement. The program has resulted in a more peaceful year in kindergarten classrooms.

We've also heard that Wohlwend Elementary is working to improve their math achievement scores through continuous classroom improvement efforts. Principal Dave Meschke is co-teaching fifth-grade math in a classroom with a high number of students with special education needs. By analyzing their math data, Wohlwend has found strengths in problem-solving and addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Place value and geometric concepts are more of a struggle, and staff are using this information to guide instruction.

At Beasley Elementary, more than half of the student population receives free or reduced price meals. Staff know that when families struggle with basic needs, students have difficulty focusing in school. That's why Beasley now offers free universal breakfast to all students and several other assistance programs for families who might need help. The school is also building stronger partnerships with all of their families by offering the Home Works program, which allows teachers to make home visits.

Bernard Middle discovered that students with individualized education plans scored significantly lower than their peers on MAP tests. To help decrease this gap, Bernard is enhancing collaboration between general education teachers and Special School District teachers for math and English language arts. The number of co-taught classes is up from 17 to 22 this school year. The school is also using flexible student grouping to provide targeted instruction for those who need it.

We are looking forward to hearing stories from the rest of our schools at future board meetings.

Pictured: Kindergarten students started school at Trautwein this year without a classroom assignment. This allowed teachers to get to know all the students in order to make smart classroom placements.
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