The district is able to continuously improve teaching,learning and operations because it has a strong data-driven perormance culture in which teachers andadministrators rely on in-depth data analyses to driveimprovements.
While many districts keep careful track of student assessmentdata, Miami-Dade has done a particularly good job of using thisinformation to empower students, teachers and administratorsto improve performance each year. Administrators and teachersuse student data to make their instructional decisions and aresavvy at accessing, interpreting and using data to plan andadjust instructional strategies when necessary and re-teachuntil students meet or exceed learning standards.Administrators routinely pore over data such as interimassessments in reading, math and science or absences andtardies by school, class or student. Many of them engage in thedistrict’s Data/COM process, a unique problem-solving strategyto help challenged schools improve their student performance.During Data/COM sessions, leaders of struggling schools meetwith the superintendent and his cabinet to hash through real-time assessment data from their schools and determine whatthat data reveals about the challenges and obstacles they mustovercome. The group brainstorms options about how to addressthe issues and determines which will have the best probabilityof success.In Data/COMs, leaders may consider school-level challengesthat range from stemming the dropout rate to ensuring thatkindergartners come to school ready to learn. The leaders thendebate potential solutions, including what has worked in otherschools in the district and nation, and provide the school withan immediate infusion of tailored resources to implement thosesolutions quickly.Across the district, administrators, principals, teachers andstudents also regularly engage in collaborative “data chats”—conversations about the strengths and challenges of individualstudents, teachers and schools—as well as conversations aboutteaching and learning objectives, all informed by real-time data,and all seeking new ways to improve. Administrators have datachats with principals, principals have data chats with teachers,and teachers have data chats with students. They review datareecting student, teacher and school-level progress anduse them to set goals and identify strategies to continuouslyimprove. The point is to help each individual understand whathe or she needs to do to reach the next level of performance.Teachers and administrators also receive training on how to usethe district’s comprehensive data warehouse—which allowsthem to run color-coded reports on everything from grades toattendance to test scores to community service hours, at theschool, classroom or individual student level. Teachers canchoose among prepared reports or run their own customizedversions to pinpoint individual and group needs and gureout steps that should be taken to accomplish specic goals likehelping students acquire missing credits or increasing readingcomprehension scores. Teachers and administrators say thedata warehouse is easy to use and suits their needs well. A webportal also allows parents, students, employees and communitymembers to access relevant data online.
District leaders have worked to create a district-wideculture that is ocused on achieving results, continuouslyimproving and providing students with equal opportunitiesto learn.
District leaders have modeled their management styles andstrategies after successful leaders of other organizations, bothpublic and private (including Apple, IBM and Toyota), that keeptheir eye focused on results, accountability and efciency.For example, when new district initiatives have been rolledout, employees found that district leaders communicated aclear and compelling vision, set high expectations and requiredaccountability for performance. Employees report that this hashelped create a culture within the district that values studentand programmatic results, as well as continuous improvementand innovation.The superintendent has also worked hard to communicatefrequently and maintain excellent relations with the Miami-Dadeschool board, which often reaches unanimous decisions that areconsistent with the superintendent’s strategic recommendations.
The district ensures that as many resources as possiblereach the classroom by being fnancially sound,implementing prudent fnancial planning processes anddisplaying strong fscal accountability.
In 2008, the district’s nances were in rough shape. Itsunrestricted nancial reserves were just $5.9 million out of an annual budget of $2.8 billion, and its credit rating fromMoody’s had fallen signicantly, resulting in higher interest
EXEMPLARY PRACTICES RELATEDTO STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
Miami-Dade County Public Schools