School Improvement in Maryland

Developing a Monitoring Plan

You can use monitoring plans for many purposes. The purpose described in this section is to monitor student progress toward proficiency on key indicators/objectives that lead to the attainment of school improvement achievement goals.

How do you develop a monitoring plan?

Is formative or summative data more useful for monitoring?

A monitoring plan will need to identify what you are monitoring, what data you are expecting teachers to collect, how you want them to record the data, and how frequently you want them to submit it. In order to promote ownership, principals will want staff to collaboratively develop a monitoring plan. The staff need to divvy up the indicators in ways that make instructional sense and discuss how often data need to be collected on each indicator to determine progress. They need to set deadlines for collecting and submitting the agreed upon data. The discussion should be framed around the question, “What evidence have we collected (or should we collect) that students are learning specified indicators?”

If the school district has a district curriculum, staff may wish to map the state content standard indicators against the district curriculum to determine if all standards are well covered. If there are indicators not presently being addressed, the team will need to decide who will teach and assess them and when during the school year. For indicators only addressed in the first semester, teams will need to decide how best to review them with students to ensure that students maintain proficiency

How will teachers record the data?

After schools have identified the student data they need to collect to monitor progress, they need to determine the format for recording student performance on those indicators/objectives. They will find it useful to create a data collection template (a table, grid, database, or spreadsheet) for staff to use in recording the data. Two sample formats are presented in the Creating Data Collection Templates section of MDK12, one of which can be downloaded into Excel and modified to meet your needs.

To whom and how frequently will they submit the data

Principals will need to determine how frequently monitoring data should be submitted and to whom. Since the ultimate goal is to have teachers regularly collecting, discussing, and using the data to inform classroom instruction, principals may wish to see evidence that this is happening every two weeks. Waiting much longer to find out is there is full compliance or not wastes student instructional time. Principals will want to see that the data have been submitted, because it will be their responsibility to deal with any teacher not complying with the expectation. However, they will likely prefer that another school leader be the first level of receiving the data. A team leader, resource teacher, department chair, content specialist, staff development specialist, or assistant principal are instructional leaders who could play this role.

A discussion among teams or departments about how a student can demonstrate proficiency on a specific indicator should help to broaden thinking and develop some consistency in how student performance is assessed.

Why start with a monitoring plan?

There is no question that a monitoring plan, in and of itself, does not address staff needs of understanding the indicators, understanding what good student work looks like on the indicator, creating good observations and interpretations of student work, and analyzing the results. Some would argue that you need to provide staff development on those issues before you ask staff to monitor. However, that might delay moving forward on a data collection process that is critical to understanding where students are.

Creating a school-wide expectation and requirement to monitor and submit student performance data on the indicators provides a focus for the discussion and a more urgent need to learn how best to examine the work. The discussion of student performance will naturally lead back around to a discussion of how best to assess proficiency on the indicator, what the student performance tells you about what students know and don't know, and how you can use the diagnostic information to plan instruction to support students in demonstrating proficiency on the indicator. Teachers participating in the discussion frequently uncover areas in which they need to build capacity, and that self-diagnosis provides a stronger motivation for acquiring the appropriate skills.

It is worth emphasizing that in addition to the student performance data collected to monitor school improvement goals, teachers may also need tools to collect student performance data on all the indicators they are responsible for teaching. In a perfectly aligned system, this would replace a teacher's grade book which is also a data collection template though rarely aligned with the content standard indicators.