Center for the Study
of Systemic Reform in
Milwaukee Public Schools
This research focuses on three interrelated aspects of systemic
reform: Accountability: District accountability reports and measures;
Data-based decision making in schools: Training for use and
interpretation of data in schools, especially as part of school
improvement and educational plans; and Assessment literacy of staff
and teachers: Professional development of teachers aimed at
understanding the connections across standards, assessments,
curriculum, and classroom practices.
These are the three pillars of most urban accountability systems that
strive for continuous improvement of student learning. The
accountability function tracks progress in a consistent way and sets
common goals. Data-based decision making enables schools to implement
the goals at the school level. Assessment literacy allows teachers to
implement goals in classroom instruction by comparing common standards
for learning, assessments (standardized and others), and curriculum,
and to make balanced adjustments, rather than, for example,
overemphasizing standardized tests.
What the Project
Project staff are developing value-added measures of school
performance and are conducting statistical analyses requested by the
district that lead to a greater understanding of these measures,
including comparisons with attainment, or average scores.
In the area of data-based decision making,
project staff are developing seminars to train schools how to
effectively organize, present, and use data for continuous
improvement, e.g., establishing goals for change, recognizing trends,
and determining when goals are achieved.
In the area of assessment literacy, project
staff are helping design training for teachers to understand links
across standards for learning, assessments (both standardized and
performance), instruction, and curriculum. With this training,
teachers can better understand what students know and which part of
the curriculum needs more emphasis, avoiding inappropriate reliance on
any single assessment.