A Driving Force

Subjects: Professional Development, Science & Health
Grade Level: 9-12
Source: Cable in the Classroom

"The ability to reflect is critical to what good educators do, and it helps teachers deal with modern challenges involving accountability and standardized assessments. 'Tools for the Reflective Teacher' helps teachers analyze data in an efficient way and allows them to better discern the effectiveness of their instruction."

As a physics teacher at Concord High School, Judson Wagner aimed to solve a common problem faced by many teachers in today's world of high stakes testing and accountability – how to make it easier to use data generated from student tests to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching.

Knowing that teachers have limited time and often limited resources, Wagner developed a set of pre-made spreadsheets, called "Tools for the Reflective Teacher". These tools are designed to help teachers collect, sort, display, and analyze mounds of student data in an efficient way.  They help teachers figure out what students are learning and what they are not learning, compare groups of test takers, and collect information as learning occurs with student-centered groups. 

The program led to significant learning gains within Wagner's own classroom, and it also played an important part in the dialogue among science teachers in the Brandywine School District. As these teachers analyzed and reflected on results of common teacher-made pre/post exams, they were better able to make informed decisions on how their students were learning and how instruction could be improved.

From 2004 to 2005, all three high schools in the district improved their scores on the science portion of the Delaware State Testing Program by more than 20 percent. Wagner's school, Concord High School, improved by 37 percent and became the second highest scoring comprehensive school in the state, with the other two high schools in the top ten.

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