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ACE Habits of Mind: A disciplined way of working and thinking that forms the foundation of Data Wise. The habits include:

  • A shared commitment to Action, assessment, and adjustment
  • Intentional Collaboration in support of ongoing adult learning
  • Relentless focus on Evidence in all conversations

Data Wise Improvement Process: A systematic approach to organizing the core work of schools around instructional improvement. The process includes 8 steps for using a wide range of data sources to drive collaborative improvement of learning and teaching. The process is introduced and described in detail in Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning.

Action plan: A document that a team creates in Step 6 of the Data Wise Improvement Process. The plan gives the instructional strategy the team will use to address the problem of practice, specifies who will be responsible for leading each part of the plan, and identifies the date by which each part of the plan should be completed. Data Wise action plans are concise, typically fitting on one or at most two presentation slides.

Data overview: A few (usually 2-4) compelling data charts that a team creates in Step 3 of the Data Wise Improvement Process. The overview illustrates a story related to the focus area for collaborative inquiry and is used to engage teachers in working together to identify a priority question that they are committed to exploring.

Data: Any evidence that can help inform improvement of learning and teaching. Sometimes data are quantitative, such as test scores and attendance rates. But data can also be qualitative, such as student work, notes from focus groups with students, and observations of teachers’ instruction.

Focus area: A topic provided by school or system leaders that provides guidance to instructional teams about how to narrow the scope of their collaborative inquiry. Examples of focus areas include “literacy,” “problem solving,” and “college readiness.”

I Notice / I Wonder Protocol: A discussion protocol designed to support participants in staying grounded in evidence when examining data. The protocol begins with several rounds in which participants take turns simply stating what they saw (no interpretations or judgments) when looking at a data source (for example, “I noticed that the teacher waited about two seconds between asking a question and calling on a student”). Then the protocol calls for several rounds in which participants state what they wondered about the data (for example, “I wonder if calling on a student after just two seconds gives other students enough time to think”). Because wonderings can involve interpretations, they are intentionally framed as questions, rather statements of fact.

Key tasks: Discrete activities that are done at a particular step of the Data Wise Improvement Process. Each step of the process has between 2 and 8 key tasks.

Ladder of inference: A mental model that helps people visualize what is happening in their minds as they select data, interpret it, draw conclusions, and act. By separating out each step of this mental process, the ladder of inference provides a language that people can use to explain the extent to which statements are supported by evidence. The model was developed by business theorist Chris Argyris and popularized by Peter Senge and colleagues in Schools that Learn: A Fifth Discipline Handbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education.

Learner-centered problem: A statement about student learning that relates directly to the priority question, is based on multiple data sources, is within a school’s control, is a statement about student learning, and is specific and small. Identifying a learner-centered problem is the goal of Step 4 - Dig into Student Data.

Meeting Wise Checklist: A document that teams can use to gauge the extent to which a meeting has taken into account purpose, process, preparation and pacing. The checklist is introduced and described in detail in Meeting Wise: Making the Most of Collaborative Time for Educators.

Measurement error: The difference between the measured value and the true value. Any measurement made with an assessment is approximate, since all measurements include some random error. Ideally, measurements should not include systematic error, or bias. When measurement error is high, an assessment produces very different results across multiple instances of measurement.

Next steps: Tasks that team members agree to do to ensure that work gets accomplished before the team’s next meeting. Identifying clear next steps is critical to making sure meeting time is not wasted on tasks that could be done independently.

Norms: Ground rules for how members of a group agree to behave when working together. Data Wise norms include: take an inquiry stance, ground statements in evidence, assume positive intentions, stick to protocol and hear all voices, start and end on time, and be here now.

Plan to assess progress: A document that a team creates in Step 7 of the Data Wise Improvement Process. The plan gives the short-, medium-, and long-term data sources that will be used to track progress on the action plan developed in Step 6. The plan identifies when the data will be collected and specifies performance and/or growth goals for each data source.

Plus/Delta Protocol: A discussion protocol designed to support participants in developing a shared responsibility for working together effectively. Typically used at the end of a meeting, this protocol asks participants to share “pluses,” which are thing that worked well in a meeting, and “deltas,” which are things that would be good to change for next time. The word “delta” (referring to the Greek symbol for change) is used to ensure that the information shared is growth-oriented, not just a list of complaints.

Priority question: A specific question that teachers choose as the focus of their collaborative inquiry. The question arises from the data overview that teachers discussed in Step 3 and helps the team know what kind of data they will examine when they dig into data in Step 4.

Problem of practice: A statement about teaching that is based on evidence found when examining instruction. It relates directly to the learner-centered problem, is within a school’s control, is a statement about practice (not a question), and is specific and small. Identifying a problem of practice is the goal of Step 5, Examine Instruction.

Protocol: A set of instructions that provides structure to a discussion. Protocols provide specific conversation prompts and clarify when individuals are expected to speak--and when they are supposed to listen.

Reliability: The consistency of a measure. The key to reliability is replication: for example, if we conducted an assessment multiple times, how much would scores vary if students were given different items? scored by different raters? tested on different days? tested in varied environments? When measurement error is great, reliability is low.

Validity: The extent to which an inference is supported by data. For example, with a multiple choice writing assessment, inferences teachers might draw about students’ knowledge of rules of punctuation would have greater validity than inferences about students’ ability to create clear and compelling sentences.