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

Resources for Structuring Team Time to Examine Student Work

The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education has published an issue brief on "Using Data about Classroom Practice and Student Work to Improve Professional Development for Educators." (pdf)

"In the Right Context" by Rick DuFour in the Journal of Staff Development discusses how effective leaders structure team meetings and provide professional development for staff.

Rick DuFour, “The Learning-Centered Principal” discusses his role in building staff capacity to focus on learning.

Looking at Student Work is an Annenberg Institute for School Reform Web site that explores the general use of various protocols for looking at student work.

Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit provides information about protocols for examining student work. The site provides a number of useful protocols including the Tuning Protocol, the Collaborative Assessment Conference, and a Constructivist Protocol.

Examining student work videos.