And kids and teachers benefit

By Carole Todd

“Without data you’re just a person with an opinion” could be Ferri Lockhart’s slogan.

Lockhart is testing coordinator for all five Minnick Schools, and her data collecting fervor is making a difference in the way teachers teach and students learn.

Lockhart is passionate about how data can help teachers and administrator in everything from lesson planning to student discipline and growth. And for kids who aren’t achieving, the data can help figure out why. Is it the content, the time of day, the way the subject is taught, or does the student need additional accommodations? The numbers provide valuable insights.

ferri-lockhartLockhart makes clear that growth is not a number on a test and gives an example: A student scored low on his student growth assessment, but teachers celebrated. Why? Because the previous year he ripped up the test before taking it. Progress can be slow, says Lockhart, but it is progress and should be measured as such.

The testing world is full of acronyms — SGA, PALS, VAAP, SOLs – and Lockhart’s job is to take all of this data and help teachers and administrators use it to hone lesson plans and behavior strategies. In short, data shows what is working and why.

Plus, Lockhart is using the very same measurement tools and programs that public schools are using, so that there is better communication and partnering to get students back into their public schools– with improved skills in academics and behavior. Just for the record the Minnick schools work with 32 different school divisions!

To show the power of partnerships, Lockhart points to the Comprehensive Instructional Program (CIP) a consortium of Virginia public schools. Minnick teachers can log in to see lesson plans collected by CIP from schools that have high-achieving students in special education. It is a win-win for everyone, she says, and teachers are ecstatic that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

With perceptive data analysis, teachers have the tools to teach more effectively, creating happier teachers and students. Says Lockhart, “Data is a road map to achievement for both educators and students.”