By Jacqui Branch
City Year Columbia '17
From setting goals, informing decision-making, identifying student skill gaps and measuring progress, to communicating student performance to multiple audiences, my daily role as a City Year AmeriCorps member frequently involves working with data.
At the start of the school year, my partner teacher and I determined the group of students I would be working with for the year, which is called a focus list. Using my focus list, my supervisors and I set goals around how much time to spend with each student (called dosage), how to assess students' Math and English needs, and track any absence patterns. This process is called . Student progress monitoring through data collection and dosage tracking serve as key components for my teammates and me to know how our students are performing.
As part of my daily responsibilities, whenever I work with one of my students for more than 15 minutes, I record it in our student data tracking system and indicate the subject on which we worked, the topic, lesson or skill we addressed and notes on what the student did and did not understand well. This allows me to identify student skill gaps by subject and topic and assess how to provide additional support. I use this data as a reference when reviewing my students' test scores. Every two weeks, my students take STAR (Standardized Test for the Assessment of Reading) tests in Math and ELA. I review my students' performance on these tests and determine areas where students need extra support. This is why tracking student data and dosage is so crucial to my decision-making process. Through keeping detailed data on my work with students and monitoring test results, I am able to determine both where students need further support and any changes that need to be made based on my support.
My work with data informs the discussions I have with a variety of different audiences including my students, their parents, their families and partner teachers. When I meet with students, I am able to provide them with tangible examples of success and areas where we need to improve. For example, we set goals around scoring one or two points higher on the next STAR, and this serves as a motivator for students to work hard to improve. Through student progress monitoring, I have the ability to inform my partner teacher of exactly where students are and where they need support. From here, my teacher and I determine who to focus on depending on the needs. When I connect with parents and families, I am able to reference specific areas where students have improved or still need assistance. These conversations are less number focused and more conversational.
Through my work with data in this role, I have gained valuable experience. My goal is to become a professor one day, and this work will require curriculum design and developing tools and resources to help students learn. My experience serving at CSC-John P. Thomas Elementary School is allowing me to see how data informs what is effective in helping each student learn and that data can be used in a very individualized way.
This blog is part three of our monthly series, "What Do AmeriCorps Members Do?" What else does the City Year AmeriCorps role involve? Read to learn more:
Part Eight: Run Afterschool Programs
Part Seven: Provide Positive Behavior Support
Part Six: Address Student Absenteeism in Schools
Part Five: Utilize Data to Meet Student Needs
Part Four: Build Relationships to Help Students Succeed
Part Two: Own Unique Responsibilities as Coordinators
Part One: Tutoring and Teamwork