School Improvement in Maryland

Engage Staff in Analyzing the Data

Analyzing your data is a process in which you will want to involve your entire staff. Good data-driven dialogue leads to data-driven decisions. If you engage staff in an ongoing data dialogue about what the data is telling you, it is much more likely they will feel ownership for the data-based decisions you collectively make.

Student progress in reading and math for the elementary and middle school grades is measured by the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) or—for a small number of students with profound disabilities—the Alternate MSA (ALT-MSA). The High School Assessments are used to measure reading and math for high school grades.

There are numerous resources on MDK12 to help you engage your staff in analyzing their state assessment data. Low performance areas will drive your school improvement goals.

How do you engage staff in analyzing state assessment data?

The online School Progress data will serve as a stimulus for rich data discussions. A question approach is used to guide you through a drilling down process of examining your data. There is also information online to help your team understand what is assessed, where your performance is and whether you met your school's AMOs.

Though our school progress data give us useful information about our school's performance and, therefore, about our areas of needed improvement, they also leave us with a number of important questions that need additional data to answer.

  • How did our students perform at the individual grade levels?
  • Were there any concerns about performance at any of the grades?
  • Are our students making progress? Adequate progress?
  • How did our students perform on the individual grade level standards?
  • How does student performance compare across subgroups?

These questions can be answered by examining your school's graphed data in the Analyzing MSA Data section of MDK12.org for students in grades 3-8 or by examining your school's data in the Analyzing HSA Data section for high school students. In addition to accessing graphs of your school and district's performance, you will find some tips in how to lead the data analysis discussion, some suggestions for next steps, and links to additional information about MSA or HSA. The MSA Data tutorial will get you started on how to examine your MSA data. Key questions that school teams need to address during this process include

  • Did your school fail to meet the AMO in any area?
  • What content area and with which groups of students do you need to improve?
  • What other information does your MSA/HSA or other data you collect provide?
  • What are the most compelling needs of our school as indicated by the data?

You will also want school teams to generate a list of questions your data raise as they work through the data analysis process.

Once the data has been studied and strengths and weaknesses identified, the school will need to identify the most urgent and compelling needs. Some schools may find they have instructional challenges in many areas whereas other schools may be moving student achievement toward the advanced level. Though a good instructional program will address all of the appropriate content standards, a good school improvement plan will focus a school-wide effort on one or two priority instructional needs.