School Improvement in Maryland

Structure Regular Time for Teams to Examine Student Work

Principals play a critical role in structuring time for and setting the expectation that teams should regularly examine student work and use the data to inform their instruction. Principals need to provide time for this to happen. They need to consider how they could use staff meetings or other meeting times to build capacity and set expectations for how teams or departments will examine student work as a regular activity at their team meetings. Principals must also monitor the process and end-products and recognize successful practices.

In many cases teachers have spent a great deal of time sorting student responses (either by letter grades or by rubric scores) and virtually no time diagnosing what students know and still need to learn. It is only the diagnostic information that will help teachers understand what they need to do next instructionally with their students.

Principals need to

  • Communicate expectations
  • Find and structure time
  • Model engagement in the process
  • Monitor process and end products
  • Recognize / showcase

How do you communicate expectations?

It is probably a good idea to communicate expectations for teams to regularly examine student work both in a meeting and a memo. Your presentation and memo should describe your expectations that teams or departments participate in ongoing examinations of student achievement data and student work. You need to identify the reason, focus, and end products for these meetings.

You must address the following questions:

  • How and how often do you expect these teams of teachers to collaboratively plan and examine evidence of student learning?
  • How can you communicate these expectations and the priority you place on it happening?
  • What do you want the end product(s) to look like?
  • How can teachers demonstrate that they have used the diagnostic information they gained from examining student work to make the kinds of instructional decisions that would result in improved student achievement?

When your staff hear your presentation and/or read your memo, they should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why does my principal expect me to participate in team examinations of student work?
  • How will it benefit students?
  • How often does my principal expect me to participate? When?
  • Who's in charge of ensuring this happens?
  • What are we expected to produce as end products to these examinations of student work?
  • What am I expected to do with these end products?
  • How am I expected to assess the effectiveness of my re-teaching?