From Evaluation to Inquiry

The focus of this project is to provide educators in struggling schools with lenses through which to view the experiences of their students and make informed decisions about how to improve their school experiences. In order to sustain this practice, the work will build the capacity of school leaders and the Department of Public Instruction to lead this process. Key goals of the project are as follows:

  1. Administrators and teachers will demonstrate an improved ability to articulate the value, purposes, and use of assessment and how it informs their instructional practices and knowledge of student learning.
  2. Administrators and teachers will learn how to use data that support school and classroom efforts to improve the school experiences of under-represented children, including broader use of data such as attendance, retention, and discipline. This includes formative, benchmark, and summative approaches that inform teaching and learning.
  3. Administrators and teachers will explore the principles and use of collaborative inquiry to inform instructional practice and knowledge of student learning and progress, with a focus on improving learning of African American, Latino, and low income students.
  4. Administrators and teachers will broaden their ability to view instructional practices and student engagement. Using research observation measures SNAP and CLASS teachers and administrators will explore constructs of quality.
  5. Administrators and teachers will learn to use the NC teacher evaluation to promote the use of data, evidence based practice, and collaborative inquiry in order to improve the school experiences of African American, Latino, and low income children.

Specific activities include:

  • Snapshot data collection: Project staff will collect data using our Snapshot tablet application during one day-long observation in up to 70 additional prekindergarten through third grade classrooms and will collect data using the CLASS observation measure in up to 85 classrooms. FPG will provide trained data collectors and will also provide periodic staff development for school and district personnel on the use of Snapshot data and other data for school improvement. At the completion of data collection, FPG will create a set of graphs showing data at the school, grade, and classroom level. FPG will distribute questionnaires to teachers to gather data on what they learned and how they applied their learning in the classroom.
  • Parent focus groups: The purpose of this activity is to examine parents’ beliefs and attitudes about the K-3 formative assessment currently being developed by the NC Office of Early Learning. Through the use of focus groups we expect to gain information about: a) parents’ attitudes towards strategies for obtaining family information relevant to the formative assessment, b) parents’ general attitudes and beliefs about formative assessment, and c) parents’ beliefs with regard to the type of information they would like to receive from formative assessment reports. Up to 28 focus group sessions with parents of children in K-3 will be conducted in 15 different locations throughout the state.
  • Online learning: Project staff will develop and deploy an online course to promote inquiry and equity in PreK through third grade education. Participants in the online course will include teachers who will receive data feedback as well as teachers who only take the online course. The goals of the course are to: 1) build the capacity of educators to transform the school experiences and outcomes for underserved populations in PreK through grade 3; 2) develop educators able to prioritize attention to equity and to develop habits that interrupt bias at classroom, school, district and state levels; 3) ensure a deeper understanding of state standards and how they can be used to help schools and districts focus on excellence for underserved populations; 4) develop school, district and state cohorts to sustain environments where continuous improvement is the mindset, collaborative inquiry is the process, data drives change, and research guides practice; 5) focus on research-based instructional practices designed to foster classroom cultures of caring, competence, and excellence that are particularly supportive for underserved populations; and 6) ensure deeper understanding of developmental science and the ability to apply it through curriculum and instructional practice.
FPG Project Staff:
Sharon A. Ritchie, Principal Investigator
Sam Roman-Oertwig, Co-Principal Investigator
Gisele M. Crawford, Research Specialist
Toniann Glatz, Research Assistant
Christine Coster Harradine, Investigator
Adam L. Holland, Research Scientist
Barbara M. Lowery, Program Assistant
Funding Agency: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Funding Period: 08/22/2012 - 12/31/2016
Award Amount: $1,720,609