The Project’s work with a school is closely aligned with the assessment system used by New York City, know as ‘Quality Review.’ This system for assessing schools will be extended to schools across New York State, and probably has equivalent systems in other states. When a Project school undergoes a Quality Review, all the work that the school and the Project have been doing for years is apt to be showcased and to help the school demonstrate the necessary proficiencies. Still, the Quality Review is always stressful. For various reasons, the Project is in a position to offer an enormous amount of help and support. First, our Deputy Director, Laurie Pessah, is a trained provider of Quality Reviews, giving her special insights in ways that a school can demonstrate its proficiency. Then, too, while a school only lives through one Quality Review every few years, Project staff experience these vicariously alongside scores of schools, and this provides us with a bank of experience that we draw upon when helping a school ready itself for these reviews. Furthermore, the Project has a staff person, Janet Steinberg, who has time in her schedule to provide some support, free of charge, to Project schools undergoing a Quality Review.
The Quality Review has recently been revised to be aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Schools that are undergoing a review, then, will want to participate in the Project’s latest work with the Common Core. Although some tools for assessing progress towards the Common Core are still under construction, we are happy to share rough drafts of those tools with any school undergoing a Quality Review, and to help you learn from these assessments so as to align instruction to the Common Core. Then, too, the Project can help a school demonstrate ways in which the school use data to make each and every instructional decision: including those pertaining to whole group, small group, and individual instruction. Data does not mean test scores, of course. Reading logs are data. Writing notebooks are data. The results from a performance assessment are data. Conferring notes are data.
Of course, it is also important to use data to plan professional development for teachers. When helping a school prepare for Quality Review, we spotlight learning how to mine the data and use it for planning, instruction, and ongoing assessment. We help a school to articulate its coherent strategy for supporting student learning, in ways that align curriculum, instruction and organizational decisions. We also help a school to be sure that it is gathering, analyzing and sharing information on student learning outcomes so as to track student progress over time and so as to set and track suitably high goals for accelerating student learning. We help teachers be prepared for questions such as these: Can you show me your lesson plans? What made you decide to do this unit at this time? Why did you decide to use this text? Can I see how you know that the students mastered what was taught? What data have you gathered about your students that helped you make the decision that you did? How are you differentiating your teaching to your students? What are your goals for this unit? For this child? When you confer with a child, how are you making sure that the child has internalized the teaching? How do you form small groups that are meaningful? How are you connecting what your students are doing in reading and writing to all the other curriculum areas?
We also help teachers work with students in such a way that their students are prepared for questions such as these: Can you tell me what your teacher taught you? Can you show me your work? What goals are you working on? Can you show me how you are using a specific strategy?
Meanwhile, we help administrators be prepared for questions such as: How are you making sure that teachers are not teaching the same thing each year, but that instead your school is supporting a spiral of student development, differentiating the instruction one year from the next? How are you making sure that teachers are tailoring their teaching based on the needs of their students? How do teachers establish learning goals for individuals and small groups of students?