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Data Driven Instruction Fosters Relationships

April 21, 2009


Students enter the Scott County Juvenile Detention Center School, administered by the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, at a chaotic time in their lives. The teachers there know the conventional method of assessing an incoming student’s learning levels and then assigning appropriate grade level work does not often lead to a positive learning attitude by the student nor does it promote progress. The students do not know why they are assigned the work or why they should strive to master it. The students have no relationship with these teachers.
Bob Bosco, teacher at the Juvenile Detention Center School, has created the Student Educational Conversation and Progress Report to address these problems. Incoming students are pre-tested to determine their reading levels, knowledge of Kansas University (KU) strategies/routines, and math levels. The teacher then has an educational conversation with the student, sharing scores on all of the pretests, explaining the reasoning for learning the KU strategies and math concepts, and promoting the commitment the Juvenile Detention Center Staff make to teaching him the content to meet his learning goals. After reviewing the learning goals for the student, the student signs a commitment statement pledging to put forth his best effort to earn mastery post-test scores. The data shared with the student has meaning and a rapport is developed with the teacher.
This method promotes a teamwork atmosphere for the students and staff. The students are more willing to participate in lessons because they understand the purpose of their learning and with concrete goals of mastery level scores on post-tests. By working together to meet these goals, the student builds a working relationship with the teacher. Furthermore, when the student achieves mastery post-test scores in any area, the event is celebrated. During the 2008-2009 school year, students working on the KU Sentence Writing Strategy had an average pre-test score of 52% and an average post-test score of 92%. When tested over the LINCS Vocabulary Strategy, average pre-test scores were 43% and average post-test scores were 98%. Teachers at the Juvenile Detention Center School feel they are more focused in their instruction and are gratified knowing that no matter how long a student stays in their program (which may be as little as three weeks to as long at two months) they can help that student see progress.

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