Utilizing Advanced Data Management to Drive Program Improvement & Assess Program Impact
As the leading provider of teachers to K-12 schools in Delaware, Wilmington University’s College of Education is driven by its mission to serve the community and ensure its students are as effective as possible. The College strongly emphasizes building an educator’s capacity to recognize and respond to each student’s learning needs. Clinical experiences are structured to provide intensive, scaffolded learning and mentorship from highly effective teachers. Given the ever-changing landscape of teacher preparation, the College of Education uses data to improve programs and produce the highest quality educators possible.
Though the College of Education was already conducting regular assessments, a 2007 review by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) highlighted the need for Wilmington to adopt new technology that would provide a unified, integrated system for collecting and reporting data. After adopting one solution that proved to be less than optimal, Wilmington turned to Taskstream to support their ongoing outcomes assessment efforts.
In selecting Taskstream, the College of Education knew they were utilizing a technology tool that would improve their student-centered accreditation and assessment data collection. The technology supports the College of Education’s processes by:
- Providing a quick, seamless transition into a unified system for collecting student and program data
- Generating reports that are easy to use and comprehensive
- Facilitating online “exhibit rooms” that organize evidence and provide accreditation reviewers with easy access to key documents and reports
- Supporting faculty, staff and students with an intuitive, effective system for managing evidence and artifacts
- Being a stable, robust partner that continuously evolves with the national education landscape
Michele Brewer, Ed.D., Technology Chair, worked with a team including the Dean of the College and Program Chairs to implement several processes and best practices that ensured students and faculty were able to make the fullest use of the Taskstream tools. She created several resources and guides, and set aside specific times each week to hold an open house “Technology Tuesday” for anyone who had questions. Furthermore, the College of Education helps to induct students into the use of Taskstream by providing access to a zero-credit online training course.
“The technology training program for adjunct instructors at Wilmington University has shown us dimensions that we never knew existed and taught us skills that we never knew we could accomplish. I wish this existed when I was a Principal; it would have benefited my district greatly.”
Wilmington University’s subsequent NCATE accreditation visit was a success. The Board of Examiners (BOE) was impressed by the College’s extensive use of data, and their ability to organize the information and make it actionable to drive improvement. In fact, Wilmington was commended for strengths in three of the six unit standards. The BOE was also able to use an online exhibit space Wilmington University created in Taskstream to view key reports, data, and student artifacts.
In the report, strengths cited include Wilmington’s Unit Assessment System and its use for program and unit improvement (NCATE Standard 2), faculty evaluation and faculty development (NCATE Standard 5), and resources for and uses of technology in the unit (NCATE Standard 6).
“The adoption and implementation of the Taskstream platform now allows the unit to successfully evaluate the capacity and effectiveness of its assessment system, particularly in terms of providing evidence of desired candidate proficiencies and their progression through transition points. Examination of evidence demonstrates a commitment to utilization of sound measures directed at evaluation of candidate performance prior to program completion.”
Based on the successful implementation in the College of Education, Wilmington is utilizing Taskstream to prepare for its Middle States accreditation two-year study and visit.
What’s Next: Utilizing Advanced Data Analytics to Catalyze Program Improvement
In 2013, Taskstream partnered with Wilmington to develop a ground-breaking data collection, analytics, and reporting system that makes it possible for the College of Education to compare in-service teaching performance data of their graduates with their performance as candidates in their teacher preparation program. The system is designed to connect data from a range of sources, including state teacher evaluation data linked to K-12 student achievement.
This work is supported through a competitive grant Wilmington was awarded by the Delaware Department of Education as part of the state’s participation in the US Department of Education’s Race to the Top Competitive Grant Program. The state grant provides funds for Wilmington to co-develop a data system that supports program improvement aligned with the new state accountability policy. This policy, which took effect on July 1, 2014, is focused on strengthening teacher preparation in Delaware. Delaware is one of only two states to have completed all of Data Quality Campaign’s 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, and is leading the way in the implementation of state policies and practices to catalyze improved outcomes for educator preparation.
“Once we have the data, we need to devise ways to carefully and thoroughly look for significant relationships among program attributes, teacher characteristics, and student achievement. Then we can make informed decisions about what works, what doesn’t, and why. Not only should this help improve our programs and better prepare our teacher candidates, it should also contribute to improved achievement of all students whom our graduates eventually teach, and should enable us to effectively mentor and coach when and where it is needed. It would also make valuable and valid contributions to our current knowledge base about quality teaching, learning, and teacher preparation.”
For this project, Taskstream is providing Wilmington with the IMPACT Dashboard and access to a Data Repository for ad-hoc reporting in order to analyze graduates’ performance using multiple variables. Using Taskstream’s new Enterprise Data Hub, Wilmington will be able to link the demographic and performance outcomes they collect on their teacher candidates with licensure, test scores, and data they will be receiving from the state on their graduates’ performance on the DPAS-II, the state’s teacher performance appraisal system which includes observation and K-12 student achievement data. Wilmington will monitor their graduates’ performance in the classroom for five years following program completion, and will analyze all variables to determine what factors may influence its graduates’ impact on student learning over time.
Not only will Wilmington’s data help shape and improve their teacher preparation program, but it will position them to meet the challenge of performance outcomes-focused reporting and accreditation processes, in particular the new CAEP standards.
“The IMPACT Dashboard will allow us to link student achievement and growth data to our programs in a meaningful way. We will be able to connect teacher employment and evaluation data with their performance as candidates at Wilmington University.”