This approach builds the capacity of educators to use data to prioritize activities that (a) advance core goals, (b) measure progress toward meeting those goals, and (c) make informed decisions regarding the best ways to improve student achievement. Specifically, performance management strategies can aid schools in effectively using data at the school and classroom levels to improve instruction and learning, monitor progress toward goals, and evaluate the effectiveness of decisions.
Overview of Performance Management Principles and Practices
Principle 1: Establish and communicate a strong commitment to evidence-based decision making.
Practice 1: The principal establishes a schoolwide data team with ongoing responsibility for promoting and ensuring effective data use.
Practice 2: Develop a data-use plan that articulates activities, roles, and responsibilities.
Practice 3: Develop common understanding of key terminology among all data users.
Principle 2: Identify and monitor indicators aligned with campus goals.
Practice 1: Review lagging data to determine performance goals.
Practice 2: Determine indicators for measuring progress toward goals.
Practice 3: Establish targets for indicators based on school goals.
Principle 3: Guide and support teachers in the use of data to meet the needs of students and to support them in reaching their goals.
Practice 1: Provide targeted professional development and ongoing data support.
Practice 2: Designate a school-based facilitator who meets with teachers to discuss data.
Practice 3: Dedicate structured time for staff collaboration.
Practice 4: Organize and prepare a variety of data about students and student learning.
Practice 5: Interpret data and develop theories about how to improve student learning.
Practice 6: Modify instruction to test theories and increase student learning.
Principle 4: Guide and support parents and students to stay on track to postsecondary success by selecting goals and monitoring their progress toward those goals.
Practice 1: Explain expectations and assessment criteria.
Practice 2: Provide feedback to students that is timely, specific, well formatted, and constructive.
Practice 3: Provide tools that help students learn from feedback.
Practice 4: Use students’ data analyses to guide instructional changes.
Principle 5: Ensure that school-level and student data needs are incorporated into districtwide data management system planning and implementation.
Practice 1: Involve a variety of stakeholders in defining user requirements for the system.
Reading is an essential skill for every subject area. Thus, it is vital to establish a school culture that recognizes that every teacher is a reading teacher. Effective reading instructional practices include supporting students’ ability to self-monitor comprehension and develop word knowledge and providing evidence-based interventions to students who struggle to learn to read.
Overview of Reading Instructional Principles and Practices
Principle 1: Establish schoolwide practices for enhancing reading for understanding in all content area instruction.
Practice 1: Identify key words for learning, teach at least two words per class every day, and review one word from previous instruction.
Practice 2: Instruct students to ask and answer questions while they read to monitor comprehension and learning.
Practice 3: Teach students to comprehend the relationships among ideas using graphic organizers.
Principle 2: Teach word-meaning strategies within content area classes.
Practice 1: Provide explicit instruction for important words.
Practice 2: Provide instruction in word-learning strategies.
Principle 3: Activate and build appropriate background knowledge for understanding text content.
Practice 1: Instruct students to use text to support answers.
Principle 4: Teach students to use reading comprehension strategies while reading complex text.
Practice 1: Instruct students to generate questions while reading to build comprehension.
Practice 2: Instruct students to generate main ideas at regular intervals in a text.
Principle 5: Provide intensive reading interventions to students with reading problems.
Practice 1: Identify students who are two or more grade levels behind in reading and provide daily reading intervention.
Principle 6: Guide students during text-related oral and written activities that support the interpretation, analysis, and summarization of text.
Practice 1: Foster discussion among small groups of students.
Practice 2: Instruct students in how to summarize text.
Practice 3: Enhance text understanding through teacher-guided conversations.
Principle 7: Maximize opportunities for students to read and connect a range of texts.
Practice 1: Provide an advanced organizer of all of the key ideas and key words to better prepare students to read text.
Practice 2: Read for a speci ed amount of time (e.g., 3 minutes) and then provide a prompt for student response.
Practice 3: Have students participate in partner reading.
Principle 8: Organize students into collaborative groups for reading tasks.
Practice 1: Implement collaborative groups with strategic reading practices to improve student outcomes.
Practice 2: Implement team-based learning to clarify, apply, and extend students’ understanding of text and content.
Principle 9: Discontinue using practices that are NOT associated with improved outcomes for students.
Practice 1: Take stock of all of the instructional practices and models that teachers are currently implementing and determine whether they are necessary and associated with improved outcomes for students.
Educators are expected to use research and evidence to make important decisions about practices and programs to ensure that teaching and learning are effective. But as Dr. Mark Dynarski of Pemberton Research points out, “Educators often hear confusing and conflicting messages about what works, what to do, or what not to do.”
Students of educators who use programs and practices that are not based on research will learn. But research-based practices—practices that have been tested and found to work—can improve instruction and accelerate learning for all students, including struggling students and English learners.
In 2010, top researchers and practitioners from across the country convened to review a range of research studies conducted in the middle grades. Findings from the best available (i.e., most rigorous) research in key areas (e.g., reading, student behavior supports, dropout prevention) were translated into practical strategies for middle grade teachers and school administrators. Ultimately, a list of essential principles and practices for improving student achievement and classroom instruction was developed. Updated in 2015, the principles and practices in nine key areas are fully described and illustrated in the Middle School Matters Field Guide, Second Edition.
This section focuses on instructional practices that are based on rigorous intervention research conducted primarily over the last decade in reading, writing, mathematics, and cognitive science and reasoning. Many of these research- based instructional strategies apply across various content areas and are designed to enhance students’ content area learning, increase engagement, and maximize students’ ability to recall, apply, and synthesize information. For example, summarization strategies can be implemented in social studies, science, or language arts; class-wide discussion practices can be used in mathematics to explore problem-solving methods and enhance reasoning ability.
When these strategies are implemented school wide, students experience consistency (for example, one strategy for identifying main idea rather than seven) and have the opportunity to apply and practice strategies in various contexts. These repeated exposures help students generalize the use of these strategies to other areas—in and outside of school and beyond the middle grades.
Dropout prevention strategies, such as using data to identify students at risk of dropping out and providing support to improve academic performance, have been proven to reduce the risk of students disengaging from and dropping out of school.
Overview of Dropout Prevention Principles and Practices
Principle 1: Use data systems to help identify students who are at risk of falling off the path to high school graduation.
Practice 1: Use data to identify incoming students with histories of academic problems, truancy, behavioral problems, and retention.
Practice 2: Continually monitor the academic and social performance of all students.
Practice 3: Monitor students’ sense of engagement and belonging in school.
Principle 2: Assign adult advocates to students who are at risk of falling off the path to high school graduation.
Practice 1: Select adults who are committed to student success.
Practice 2: Keep caseloads low.
Practice 3: Match students with adult advocates purposefully.
Practice 4: Provide training to advocates on working with students, parents, and the school staff.
Practice 5: Establish a regular time in the school day or week for advocates to meet with students.
Principle 3: Provide academic support and enrichment to improve academic performance.
Practice 1: Provide individual or small group support in test-taking skills, study skills, or targeted subject areas, such as reading, writing, or mathematics.
Practice 2: Provide extra study time and opportunities for credit recovery and accumulation through after-school, Saturday school, or summer programs.
Principle 4: Implement programs to improve behavior and social skills.
Practice 1: Use adult advocates to help students establish attainable academic and behavioral goals.
Practice 2: Recognize student accomplishments.
Practice 3: Teach strategies to strengthen problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Practice 4: Establish partnerships with community-based program providers and other agencies, such as social services, welfare, mental health, and law enforcement.
Principle 5: Personalize the learning environment and instructional process.
Practice 1: Implement team teaching and smaller classes.
Practice 2: Use the school schedule to create extended time in the classroom.
Practice 3: Foster after-school activities and encourage participation in them.