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Using Data to Close the Achievement Gap
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Using Data to Close the Achievement Gap
How to Measure Equity in Our Schools



June 2002 | 336 pages | Corwin

"Dr. Johnson's work provides both the philosophical and practical blueprint for transforming public schools into the learning communities we want and need. Leaders will find the book to be the most useful document to guide and inform their efforts to close the gap and maximize learning for all students."
Joseph Burke, Superintendent of Schools
Springfield Public Schools
Springfield, MA

"If the goal of all students reaching high standards is to be met, Using Data to Close the Achievement Gap should be required reading for all teachers and administrators. It should also be an integral part of the course of study for those preparing to teach in the United States."
Vinetta C. Jones, Dean
School of Education, Howard University

"From Johnson's penetrating analysis of current research, policies, and practices, and her wealth of experiences working with school districts around the nation, she clearly makes the connection between using data and achieving equitable outcomes as districts and schools struggle to close the achievement gap."
Aukram Burton, Diversity/Multicultural Specialist
Gheen Professional Development Academy
Louisville, KY

"This book represents a significant contribution to the national debate around school reform. Ruth Johnson presents a thoughtful, well-documented treatise on how educators, policymakers, and parents can use data to set achievement goals and to measure progress towards these goals."
Walter Allen, Professor
Department of Sociology, UCLA

Exercise the power of data to identify and rectify educational inequalities!

Student populations are diverse—however, their access to knowledge and success should not be. Unfortunately, statistics show that real disparities do exist in academic achievement, which consistently coincide with income level and race. In this comprehensive guide, Ruth S. Johnson highlights compelling evidence that these inequities can be linked to school practices that inadvertently increase inequities. The solution to this pervasive problem lies in the collection and examination of appropriate data, and this book shows readers how.

This updated edition of Setting Our Sights: Measuring Equity in School Change now includes current studies, policies, and practices, and provides new sections on data dialogues and school indicators. It offers valuable assistance for understanding, visioning, planning, and executing tactics that can successfully close the gap in student achievement, including:

  • Straightforward and in-depth discussions of the five stages for equity reform
  • Clear and easy-to-understand explanations of research findings
  • Practical tools including questionnaires, surveys, forms, and models
  • Tips for effectively gathering, analyzing, and applying data

Johnson shows how data is instrumental not only in targeting areas for improvement, but also in offering insights into the necessary steps to foster positive change and create a culture of high achievement for all students, especially those students who have traditionally been overlooked. An indispensable reference for any school undergoing a quality review process, this reader-friendly manual presents practical how-to's for analyzing data and developing a strategy that empowers teachers and administrators with an equal opportunity for success.


Anne Wheelock
Foreword: A Strategy to Challenge Inequality
 
Introduction: New to the Second Edition
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
Part I: Setting Our Sights on Student Achievement
 
1. The Achievement Gap: Framing Our Minds to Set Our Sights
The Achievement Gap

 
Some Other Considerations

 
Rethinking the Issues: Creating the Conditions for Moving Forward

 
Stages in the Change Process: How Data Offer Help and Hope

 
 
2. Building Dissatisfaction and Killing the Myths: Examining Data as a First Step Toward Motivating Reform
The Broader Picture: Societal Implications of Undereducating Certain Populations

 
Similar Aspirations, Unequal Chances: Data to Dispel Myths and Demonstrate Differential Expectations and Learning Opportunities for Students

 
Who Has the Opportunity to Go to College?

 
Changing Practices and Achievement Patterns: Exploding Myths That Perpetuate Underachievement

 
 
3. Data in the Reform Process: How and Why
Key Roles for Data

 
Assessing Data Use and Access

 
Stages of the Data User Process

 
Using Technology to Make Strong Presentations

 
 
4. Building Leadership and Data Teams
Establishing the Need: A First Step for Highly Resistant Schools

 
Creating the Team: The First Step in Most Schools

 
The Role of the Leadership Team

 
Structuring the Leadership Team's Work

 
Team Development

 
The Data Team: Core to the The Data Team: Core to the School's Success in Using Data to Achieve Reform

 
Planning for Team Success: Team Self-Assessment of Strengths and Needs

 
Assessing Perspectives of Team Effectiveness

 
Planning for Team Leadership Development

 
 
Part II: Inquiring About Equity
 
5. Talking About Data
Why the Need for Dialogue

 
Guiding the Dialogue

 
Outcomes From Dialogues

 
Conducting the Inquiry: Measurement Dimensions and Approaches

 
 
6. Examining Outcomes
Looking at the Big Picture

 
Outcome Data From Standardized Test Scores: Peeling the Data

 
Standardized Tests for College Going

 
Monitoring Student Grades

 
Displaying Middle and High School Course Enrollment and Student Overall Progress in College Preparatory Courses

 
Outcomes: Student Graduation Rates

 
College-Going Rates

 
Nonacademic Measures Related to Outcomes

 
 
7. Assessing Policies and Practices
Part I: Instruments

 
Assessing Perceptions of Attitudes, Readiness, and Commitment to Reform at the School

 
Process Indicators

 
Assessing Institutional Reform in the Academic Culture of Schools

 
Other Instruments to Assess Equity

 
Schools' and Districts' Assessments of Delivery of Precollege Guidance

 
Characteristics of High-Performing and Low-Performing Counseling Programs

 
Counselor College Preparatory Record Keeping for Individual Students

 
Which Counselors Are Providing College Access to Students?

 
Counselor's Plans for Counselees

 
Part II: Existing School Documents

 
How Does the Master Schedule Reflect Practices and Goals?

 
Assessing Documents, Policies, and Practices on How Time Is Used

 
Examining School Calendars

 
Teacher Plan Books

 
Part III: Assessing Equitable Classroom Practices

 
Survey--The Equitable School Classroom

 
Teacher Observations

 
Observing Students in Class and School

 
Parent and Student Information

 
 
8. Listening to Student and Parent Voices
Student and Parent-Guardian Questionnaires

 
Aspirations and Reality

 
Listening to Students' Voices Regarding the Academic Culture of the School

 
 
9. Evaluating Programs and Interventions
Analyses of Efforts to Raise Student Achievement

 
Assessing Elementary Programs and Practices

 
Assessing the Improvement of College Preparation and College-Going Rates

 
Professional Development

 
 
10. Using School Indicators to Answer Critical Questions
How and When to Gather Indicators

 
Combining Indicators to Answer Critical Questions

 
Sample Indicator Combinations

 
 
11. Will We Know It When We See It? Visioning, Planning, and Implementation
Planning for Monitoring

 
Plan for Monitoring the Improvement of College Preparation and College-Going Rates

 
The Role of the External Resource Person

 
 
Resources for Equitable School Reform
 
Bibliography
 
References
 
Index

"Dr. Johnson’s work provides both the philosophical and practical blueprint for transforming public schools into the learning communities we want and need. Leaders will find the book to be the most useful document to guide and inform their efforts to close the gap and maximize learning for all students." 

Joseph Burke, Superintendent of Schools
Springfield Public Schools, MA

"If the goal of all students reaching high standards is to be met, Using Data to Close the Achievement Gap should be required reading for all teachers and administrators. It should also be an integral part of the course of study for those preparing to teach in the United States."

Vinetta C. Jones, Dean, School of Education
Howard University

"With this visionary and user-friendly resource in hand, all educators—teachers, counselors, and administrators—can and must make data part of a lifelong practice to ensure high achievement for all students."

Laurie Olsen, Chief Program Officer
California Tomorrow

"From her penetrating analysis of current research, policies, and practices, and her wealth of experiences working with school districts around the nation, Johnson clearly makes the connection between using data and achieving equitable outcomes as districts and schools struggle to close the achievement gap." 

Aukram Burton, Diversity/Multicultural Specialist
Gheens Professional Development Academy, Louisville, KY

"This book represents a significant contribution to the national debate around school reform. Ruth Johnson presents a thoughtful, well-documented treatise on how educators, policy makers, and parents can use data to set achievement goals and measure school progress toward these goals."

Walter Allen, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles

Sample Materials & Chapters

Foreword by Anne Wheelock

Chapter 1: The Achievement Gap


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