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Understanding Change & Impact

Each year a student gets another year older.  At the end of that year, each student has changed in many ways.  But as educators, we’re really interested in how we impact students, not just how they change over time.  Educators are interested in knowing how their students grew in their knowledge/skills over time.

The difference between change and growth.

When we talk about impacting students, we’ll talk about achieving impact through a program or intervention.  The terms “program or intervention” is meant to include a variety of experiences in education such as: short-term activities such as a reading intervention program, a school year, the experience throughout all the grade levels of a school, and the entire PK-12 experience.  In other words, we mean that you can use data to measure the impact of all of those experiences that we are calling “programs or interventions.”

To measure the impact of our programs and interventions we need to collect data before, during, and after the program.  That way we can measure the differences in the data to determine if it was effective or not.

The model on the right describes the steps for implementing a project to support students.  Before jumping to act, it is important to gather the baseline data and prepare an action plan.  The baseline data will be used as a comparison to the results at the end of the project to measure the impact of the actions.  A good project will have a written and well- documented plan that can be used to guide the work. 

One simple way to understand an improvement model is to gather data on a group of students, for example; determine a way to measure current reading levels for a group of third graders at the beginning of the year. Throughout the year, as teachers work with these students and give assessments, find common ways to collect the data. The data can include what and how the student’s are being taught and assessed, as well as student participation and attendance. At the end of the year measure current reading level. Compare this data with the beginning of the year data, this data will allow us to calculate each students growth.

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