Our Review of WCCUSD Staff’s Presentation on 2016-17 SBAC Results

Strengths and Areas for Growth

This school year, in alignment with our Data in Action campaign, GO will periodically review WCCUSD staff reports to the school board for evidence of strategic use of data to inform decisions. Our review will align with frameworks developed by Harvard’s Strategic Data Project which were designed to provide direction and support to education organizations in their efforts to transform data use at the system level.

District staff prepared this presentation summarizing our students’ 2016-17 SBAC English and Math outcomes, and the District’s response / next steps for the October 4th Board of Education meeting.

Here, we’ve provided a high-level review of the District’s 2016-17 SBAC Presentation for: (1) strategic use of data to drive decision-making and (2) its plan for action and next steps to change student outcomes. As always, we welcome comments and suggestions to improve our analysis and findings!

We also name that the results themselves are unacceptable. They represent a failure to meet our moral obligation to young people and their families. This is not a problem with one school; rather, it is an epidemic, systemic-failure rooted in historical inequity and oppression that disproportionately affects our low-income students and students of color. We can and must do better together.

Strengths of the Presentation

Timely – Our students’ SBAC data was presented to board members and made available publicly online within a week of California’s official release of student data.

Disaggregation – Overall English Language Arts (ELA) and Math data was presented by ethnicity, subgroup (English Learner, Students with Disabilities, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged), and grade level.

Multi-Year Student Growth MonitoringThe presentation includes a three-year matched cohort analysis of three 2016-17 grade levels (5th-7th).

Vision – The presentation includes a stated vision for classroom level use of data and the District’s intent to provide corresponding professional development for our teachers and school leaders.

Areas for Growth

Data Inaccuracies – Throughout the presentation there are numeric inconsistencies where the graphs do not match the percentage values named in the bulleted takeaway points. On some slides (see Example 2 below), all of the bulleted takeaways do not match the values displayed in the graph. The reader doesn’t know which numbers are accurate.  

  • Example 1: On Slide 15 regarding “Overall Math Performance Level by Ethnicity”, the bulleted takeaway says 32% of African American students met / exceeded standards, while the graph shows 8% of African American students meeting / exceeding standards. In addition, the third bullet says 23% of all students nearly met math standards while the graph shows 25% nearly meeting standards.)
  • Example 2: On Slide 12 regarding “Overall ELA Performance Level by Ethnicity”, the bulleted takeaway says 79% of African American students did not meet the standard, while the graph shows 77% of African American students not meeting the standard. In addition, the bulleted takeaway says 65% of Latino students did not meet the standard, while the graph shows 74% of Latino students not meeting the standard. Lastly, the final bullet saying 25% of all students nearly met the standard does not match the graph which shows 23% of all students nearly meeting standard.

Underdeveloped Actions – Strong goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound). The actions detailed in this presentation lack these core qualities. The actions fall within general themes of change that are not clearly measurable, and difficult to be monitored for accountability. The presentation does not identify desired impact, focal subgroups, or milestones and targets along the way to success. It is also important for District staff to set clear expectations with the board about how and when they will monitor and report back on progress. Overall, the action slides would be much stronger with greater specificity about who is doing what, when, and for who.

Lack of Direct Alignment to Strategic Plan / Roadmap 2022 – Strong use of data concretely connects to the organization’s guiding strategic vision and action plan; in this case, our District’s Roadmap 2022 Plan should be the guiding framework through which this presentation lays out next action steps. However, while some similar themes from the Roadmap are present, this presentation’s action steps do not make explicit connections to Roadmap 2022. We must hold a high standard for how data presentations align to our guiding vision and plan.

Budget Impact – Strategic use of data aligns budget priorities to student needs. With such clear, urgent, intense student needs confirmed in this data (i.e. 4 percent of English Learner children on level in English), we expect District leadership to align investments to core actions, provide clear goals and targets, and publicly share a timeline for monitoring of impact. The LCAP provides some of this context, but this report on SBAC results contains no references to the LCAP — either to budget priorities or to how these results compare to SBAC growth targets. If complementary documents are in place, they should be referenced here.

Inconsistent Data Disaggregation – One additional data snapshot provided in the presentation was of our students’ mastery of specific content areas within the broader English and Math assessments (Slides 23 and 24). This data offered important additional detail on how students are achieving; however, it lacked disaggregation by student subgroups to support targeted action steps.

Lack of Data Clarity Throughout the presentation, data is presented in percentage values. No “n” or student count / population size is listed. The report would be stronger if the District included student counts to allow community members to better assess and understand student progress, given that fluctuations in enrollment can create increases in percentage values but actually leave fewer students on level.

Overall, while the District’s SBAC Presentation provides a high-level overview of student outcomes, it does not do enough to clarify the needed shifts to drive change for students. If we are going to truly transform outcomes for our young people, we must raise the bar much higher for data quality and aligned budgeting and action planning.
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