Activity 6: Developing a Shared Perspective

Activity Guide

Using School Data to Develop a Shared Perspective of Current and Desired Student Outcomes

When principals and school counselors work together effectively, they are able to solve many of the issues that matter most in their schools. The exercises in this module guide principals, counselors, and other guidance staff through reviews of school data to help determine how students are performing on key metrics for college and career readiness. The data also will reveal any gaps in achievement between students of different student subgroups. These activities will help principals and school counselors identify and understand the greatest needs in their school and develop a better working partnership to meet these needs so all their students are prepared for a full range of postsecondary college or career options.

Readings: “Challenges for Equity,” A Closer Look at the Principal-Counselor Relationship, 2009, p. 11; and “Conclusion,” A Closer Look at the Principal-Counselor Relationship, 2009, p. 12.

Materials

Provide participants with copies of the reading selections and ask them to read them carefully, keeping in mind their current responsibilities as principals, counselors, or guidance staff.

Discussion: Data from the School Counselor’s Perspective

Before asking participants to look at their school’s data, lead a conversation about what’s important for students and why. Ask them to respond to the following questions:

  • Where are we succeeding? Where are we not succeeding?
  • What are the school leadership’s expectations? The district leadership’s expectations? Are our students and the school meeting those expectations?
  • What does the state expect? How successfully is our school at meeting state requirements?
  • Are there significant “disconnects” between state and district requirements, our school’s unique challenges, and the best outcomes for our students? How can we bridge them?
  • Are there areas where the school counselors’ views differ from the principals’ when it comes to meeting our achievement goals? What are the differences? Are these differences related to policy? To pedagogy? To school culture?
  • What are the implications for our students? How can these differences be resolved?

Resource: Have the principal(s) and counselor(s) completed our principal-counselor Self Assessment tool?

Activity: Student Outcomes

Facilitator:

  • Prior to this discussion, have the first two columns of the chart below completed for participants. Ask participants to look at the school’s data, comparing where you are to where you want to be. Record the “Gap” in the last column: the difference between column 2 and column 1. Use this chart to determine the most critical issues—the areas where the difference between current data and the target are most glaring.
  • Discuss what your data are telling you and what you need to do to move toward your target. Use the blank spaces to add additional data points that are important in your school (i.e., attendance, disciplinary actions, promotion rates, credit recovery rates, etc.).
  • Use these questions to guide your discussion: How well are we meeting our target goals?
    1. Are the goals realistic?
    2. How were these goals set? Internally? Externally? Collaboratively?
    3. Do the data suggest that we need to do anything differently about the goals or how they are determined?
Data Point Current Target Expectation Gap
Drop-out Rate
Promotion/Graduation Rate
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—ELA/Reading
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—Math
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—Science
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—Other
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—ELA/Reading
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—Math
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—Science
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—Other
College Entrance Exam Participation (ACT & SAT)
College Entrance Exam Average Score (ACT)
College Entrance Exam Average Score (SAT)
Honors/AP/IB Participation
College-going Rate (2-year)
College-going Rate (4-year)

Activity: Student Outcomes by Race and Gender

The goal of this exercise is to get a clear picture from the data of how student outcomes look across the student subgroups in your school and determine how principals and school counselors can work together to improve any existing gaps as well as overall achievement. This is an important first step in clarifying the counselors’ role and responsibilities for those outcomes.

Further break down the data collected in Activity B using the chart below. Use the “Other Ethnic” columns to record data for large subgroups in your school (e.g., Hmong, Samoan, etc.).

Data Point Overall African American Hispanic Asian/PI White Other Ethnic Other Ethnic
M F M F M F M F M F M F
Drop-out Rate
Promotion or Graduation Rate
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—ELA/Reading
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—Math
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—Science
State Test Score: Meets Expectations—Other
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—ELA/Reading
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—Math
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—Science
State Test Score: Exceeds Expectations—Other
College Entrance Exam Participation (ACT & SAT)
College Entrance Exam Average Score (ACT)
College Entrance Exam Average Score (SAT)
Honors/AP/IB Participation
College-going Rate (2-year)
College-going Rate (4-year)

Discuss the data. Use these questions to guide your discussion:

  • Are these data readily available?
  • What do the data show? Are there obvious gaps in participation or achievement for particular ethnic groups? Genders?
  • What steps will we take to address these issues?
  • Who is in charge of monitoring the data?
  • Who is responsible for helping students plan, prepare, and make informed choices about their secondary and /or postsecondary options? Who is in charge of ensuring that students’ course selections, co-curricular activities, etc., will meet requirements for those options?
  • Are the roles of counselors and other leadership team members in addressing these issues clearly articulated and understood?