Danya International’s system of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is designed to support multiple stakeholders toward meeting their performance accountability. This M&E system is particularly suited to contribute to solutions that address the accountability challenges in public education where responsibilities and functions are distributed across various levels.
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M&E Connects Students to School Practices
At the level of school practice, Danya’s M&E system can play an instrumental role. In the Glenwood Leadership Academy, a turnaround school in Evansville, Indiana, Danya partners with the school district and the Academy leadership to use real-time, online student surveys for tracking student engagement. Because Danya’s online surveys are deposited into a database, individual teachers, the school leadership team, and the district leadership can use the data on student engagement for planning, instructional improvement, and resource allocation. The design of Danya’s dashboard system is solely for formative support and not for summative accountability.
Danya’s M&E Integrated Data System
Danya’s M&E system at the instructional and school levels provides much-needed support for several school improvement functions. Among the issues that the M&E survey system address are the following:
- What do students tell us about their engagement and perception of instructional quality and rigor?
- Does the level of student engagement remain the same or different across different core subject areas (math, ELA, science, and arts), as well as across different grade levels (fourth through eighth grades)?
- Does the level of student engagement increase as the academic year progresses?
- Given the district’s investment in professional development, what do teachers tell us about their engagement and perception of the quality and relevance of specific professional training activities? Does the level of teacher engagement increase over the course of the academic year?
Clearly, these issues constitute common concerns for educators and school leaders across the nation. There is a growing body of literature that identifies more systematic ways in gathering data on student perception and engagement. Positive student attitudes in learning contribute to student performance. For example, the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Project, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, examined instructional effectiveness of over 3,000 teachers in seven large urban districts during 2009 through 2011. A key part of the study was a survey of about 100,000 students on their perception of instructional practices. Drawing on surveys used by the Tripod Project, MET identifies seven aspects of student perception. Often referred to as the Seven Cs, student perception includes Caring (e.g., “The teacher in this class encourages me to do my best.”), Captivating (e.g., “This class keeps my attention—I don’t get bored.”), Conferring (e.g., “My teacher gives us time to explain our ideas.”), Controlling (e.g., “Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.”), Clarifying (e.g., “When I am confused, my teacher knows how to help me understand.”), Challenging (e.g., “My teacher wants us to use our thinking skills, not just memorize things.”), and Consolidating (e.g., “My teacher takes the time to summarize what we learn each day.”). These and other studies provide a knowledge base upon which Danya develops its student engagement and perception survey that is now being used in the Glenwood Leadership Academy. Among the key survey items are students’ assessments on instructional rigor, critical thinking development, and connectedness to the classroom.
Much of the current work in this area does not monitor and evaluate student response over the course of the academic year. Danya’s M&E system at Glenwood is among the very few that uses the survey data to generate a dashboard system in an ongoing fashion. Furthermore, Danya’s dashboard system is designed to address multiple stakeholders simultaneously, including individual subject-matter teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. In other words, the M&E system at Glenwood offers an innovative solution to a key challenge in school improvement—the need to monitor and evaluate the student perspective on instructional practices. Clearly, this M&E system is adaptable to other school and district settings.