1st Edition

Harnessing Formative Data for K-12 Leaders Real-time Approaches to School Improvement

By Stepan Mekhitarian Copyright 2023
    160 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    160 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    160 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    Harnessing Formative Data for K-12 Leaders prepares school and district leaders to re-evaluate how real-time formative data can inform policy, planning, and professional development. The importance of effective formative data use has escalated since the expansion of distance learning and the integration of digital education tools, which have impacted the consistency, accuracy, availability, and actionability of data points that leaders rely on. This book’s strategic insights into actionable, organizational-level formative data use will yield differentiated supports for schools to foster greater academic outcomes, a culture of equity and social-emotional well-being, and students’ readiness for college, career, and lifelong learning. Each chapter includes connections to social justice, best practices for applying data points and field-tested tips for technology integration, and a host of interactive planning guides to support implementation.

    Foreword by Jason Green and Tiffany Wycoff



    About the Author

    Part I: The Need to Reevaluate How We Use Data in Our Organizations

    Introduction: Changing Data Considerations

    • Advancements in Technology Changing Formative Data Use
    • Loss of Consistent Summative Data from Previous Academic Years
    • Concerns about Data Reliability Due to Limited Measures

    Chapter 1: Your Organizations’ Vision and Beliefs

    • Assessing Your Organization’s Vision
    • Reflecting on Your Beliefs About Student Learning and Your Role
    • Where Formative Data Fits In
    • Key Takeaways

    Chapter 2: The Impact of Formative Data on Student Success

    • Formative Data Fosters Educators’ Growth Mindset
    • Formative Data Informs Planning and Focus Areas
    • Formative Data Facilitates Differentiation and Promotes Equity
    • Key Takeaways

    Part II: Effective Formative Data Use for Leaders

    Chapter 3: Effective Formative Data Use to Drive Organizational Change

    • How Actionable is the Data You Are Gathering?
    • How Timely is the Data You Are Gathering?
    • How Much Data Do You Need?
    • How much time will it take to collect the data and will you be able to address all the data you collect?
    • List data points to inform progress on:
    • Key Takeaways

    Chapter 4: Using Instructional Technology to Effectively Address Formative Data

    • Using your SIS, Excel and Instructional Technology such as Illuminate to Efficiently Gather Formative Data
    • Identifying and Addressing Validation Concerns to Ensure Broader Impact
    • Implementing a Collaborative Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycle to Address Data
    • Key Takeaways

    Chapter 5: Analyzing Formative Data Collaboratively to Identify and Celebrate Best Practices

    • PLCs using the PDSA cycle
    • Peer Observations – in-person and virtual
    • Professional Development linked to formative data page
    • Including a wide variety of departments to maximize perspective and expertise
    • Key Takeaways

    Chapter 6: Building a Data-Driven Culture of Innovation

    • Re-envisioning Professional Development on Formative Data for All Educators
    • Reflecting on the Focus on Summative and Formative Data
    • Fostering a Data-Driven Organizational Culture





    Stepan Mekhitarian is Director of Innovation, Instruction, Assessment & Accountability at Glendale Unified School District, California.

    "Most school data attest what has happened and what students can and cannot do, and thus looks backward. COVID-19-era teaching has amplified the value of seeking evidence to also look forward. Data needs to help us make decisions about the next best teaching and learning steps and be bold yet confident in making predictions of future learning. Stepan Mekhitarian invites us to be bold, look forward, learn from our experiences during COVID-19, harness technology, and accelerate learning.

    "‘Formative assessment’ is not about assessment. Instead, it is a teaching philosophy that uses evidence (from tests, student work, student voice about their progress, and teacher observation) to optimally make judgments about the next best teaching and learning steps. This message is evident in every chapter of these two complementary books—for teachers and leaders—which makes Dr. Mekhitarian’s message so powerful. Worthwhile data must lead to actions, acceleration, advancing confidence, and advising about impact for leaders, teachers, and students."

    —John Hattie, Emeritus Laureate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne

    "Timely, relevant, and immediately applicable, these companion books by Dr. Mekhitarian offer just-in-time, responsive strategies for both teachers and school leaders interested in using formative assessment data to support students learning in today's rapidly changing education landscape."

    —Kasia Faughn, Assessment Communication Program Manager, Sacramento County Office of Education

    "Dr. Stepan Mekhitarian provides a timely resource for public schools to reimagine their student-data practices. These companion books succinctly address the climate in which we are educating and how to improve instruction despite recent gaps in performance data. Leveraging the speed and accuracy of technology to transform formative assessment practices is how we, as educators, accelerate learning and dig ourselves out of learning loss caused by the pandemic."

    —Robyn Anders, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Burbank Unified School District

    "Dr. Mekhitarian is a sought-after subject matter expert in the state of California who shares his vast knowledge of the formative assessment process in a way that is both robust and easy for readers to understand. These fantastic companion books include space to reflect on thought-provoking prompts that help us engage in the learning in a deeper and more meaningful way, and the tips called out throughout the books are pure gold!"

    —Nikki Antonovich, Coordinator, Center for Student Assessment and Program Accountability, Sacramento County Office of Education

    "Dr. Mekhitarian is a seasoned educational leader who tirelessly continues his firm commitment to instructional innovations and academic excellence. His companion books are essential for any educator interested in using formative data to make great decisions for students. They are practical, informative, effective, inspiring, and timely, especially as we come out of the pandemic and reflect on what's next in education. The companion books are undoubtedly must-have resources for professional development in schools, districts, and teacher preparation programs."

    —Silva S. Karayan, Professor Emeritus of Education, California Lutheran University

    "Stepan’s innovative approach on formative assessment in a virtual setting has had a vast impact on our academy. The way he dives deep into the purpose and importance of meaningful checks for understanding has changed the way our teachers create, implement, and analyze assessments."

    —Erika Tumminelli, Principal, Salinas City Virtual Academy

    "Dr. Mekhitarian's two new companion books make the cogent case that formative assessments are not just checks for understanding, but key tools in fostering systemic and organizational change for the benefit of all students. By following the suggested activities, teachers and administrators can begin to dialogue about the role of formative assessments with respect to their schools' mission and vision, and figure out how to maximize the impact of these tools given a changing educational landscape spurred on by the pandemic and recent technological advances."

    —Paul Hsu, Director and Co-Founder, Lotus Creek Foundation and t space Taiwan

    "Dr. Mekhitarian provides a comprehensive, step-by-step process to help teachers and school leaders make formative data the primary driver in decision-making. His books offer key insights as to how schools can build a sense of shared accountability and urgency to meet the needs of all students. As a school district leader, Dr. Mekhitarian knows firsthand the challenges of building a strong data culture. His recommendations are practical and actionable, featuring timely advice on leveraging technology and empowering teachers and administrators to use formative data to promote equity in schools."

    —Evan Bartelheim, Project Director, Accountability & Data Literacy, Los Angeles County Office of Education

    "As an educational leader, we are asked all the time, ‘How do you know students are learning?’ Formative assessments give real-time insight into student learning and progress. Dr. Mekhitarian gives his readers practical and actionable advice so that school = and district leaders can confidently answer that question, ‘We know because . . .’ I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking effective, research-based strategies that focus on accelerating student learning. Anyone can pick it up, apply the strategies, and make a real, measurable difference for students!"

    —Kelly King, Assistant Superintendent, Glendale Unified School District

    "The principle that grounds my work is that all students deserve to thrive in an inclusive environment supported by adults who put them at the center of every conversation. Dr. Mekhitarian’s innovative approach to post-pandemic formative assessment provides an actionable plan to guide school/student/teaching improvement efforts."

    —Vivian Ekchian, Superintendent, Glendale Unified School District

    "This book is a must-read for all school leaders and educators. It contains valuable, ready to use resources to lead school teams in utilizing real time data regularly and systematically to measure progress and develop concrete action plans.

    —Juanita Shahijanian, Principal, John Marshall Elementary School

    "Dr. Mekhitarian is an expert in formative assessment. This book represents an important resource for schools and districts wanting to use data to inform instruction and professional development."

    —Joshua Einhorn, Grants Officer, Michael D. Eisner College of Education, California State University Northridge

    "Dr. Mekhitarian's companion books are texts that provide educators with the tools they need in order to outline how to best utilize data. These texts allow readers to carve out their paths towards data analysis and establish best practices for utilizing the data to support learning. I have worked with Dr. Mekhitarian on many occasions to create systems to best incorporate the ideas suggested in his books. We have been successful in our results and continue to further develop and incorporate his strategies. I highly recommend these texts."

    —Mary Mardirosian, Assistant Principal, Herbert Hoover High School

    "These books are a staple that need to be in the hands of every instructional leader and classroom teacher. Dr. Stepan Mekhitarian provides valuable insight on how to effectively utilize formative data to improve student learning. Moreover, he addresses how to foster a data-driven culture, providing actionable steps that will help every school site reach its full potential."

    —Natalie Kontogiannis, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Innovation, AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School

    "The development of technology has delivered more data to schools than ever before. In these two companion volumes, Dr. Mekhitarian lays out a roadmap for teachers and administrators to leverage the data schools collect into timely actions for both the larger organization and the classroom. This work provides the connection between the data-rich world of high-stakes school evaluation and the inside-the-classroom moves made by each teacher. Using side-by-side texts focused on simple moves for the teacher and school leader with supportive and practical implementation tips, Dr. Mekhitarian’s work will allow your school to develop a vision around what educators can learn from the use of formative data and how it will positively impact schools, teachers, and students."

    —Elias Miles, Assistant Superintendent, Fillmore Unified School District

    "In a time when many educators are struggling to address the current challenges, Stepan brings his expertise and authenticity to provide support in this space. These two companion books provide practical steps to infuse formative assessment with educational technology to foster a growth mindset and increase student learning. Stepan effectively communicates both a vision and practical steps to operationalize this vision. These books are accessible for teachers and organizational leaders with a focus on increasing student agency and success."

    —Dave Chun, Director, Mathematics, Sacramento County Office of Education

    "A companion text to Mekhitarian’s book focused on real-time data collection for teachers, this text supports instructional leaders as they seek to improve almost any aspect of their school at the organizational level. Schools often collect a plethora of data but do not always use it for data-based decision-making, or they wait until the end of the year to review and analyze data. This innovative text provides myriad strategies for how to collect meaningful real-time data and, more importantly, how teams can collaborate to analyze and use that data proactively for school improvement around equity, social justice, and educational success. Using a Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle, in conjunction with the tables, tech tips, worksheets, and interactive planning guides offered by the author, school leaders can make decisions that are responsive, timely, and based on immediate data collection and analysis."

    —Wendy W. Murawski, Ph.D., Eisner Endowed Chair & Executive Director, Center for Teaching & Learning, California State University Northridge

    "Dr. Mekhitarian pushes our thinking to consider the many data points available to schools and districts as they consider how to make data-informed decisions regularly to support all students and promote equity. He challenges us to move beyond the annual summative data frenzy and leverage new and existing technology to establish systems that provide real-time supports for students and families."

    —Jessica Conkle, Director l, Los Angeles County Office of Education

    "These two books provide school leaders and teachers with a wealth of knowledge and practical applications for implementing formative assessment practices and using data in real time to inform both classroom instruction and professional learning. These books are particularly timely in the context of the transition back to classroom-based instruction from time spent in distance or hybrid learning experiences. Educators are immersed in a changing landscape brought on not only by pandemic-based impacts on learning contexts but also by challenging academic standards and ever-evolving real-world contexts into which our students will become future workers and citizens. These books can support educational leaders and classroom educators to select high-quality assessment strategies, collect immediately actionable data to feed back into teaching and learning, and apply both the assessment practices and the data to promote social justice and ensure equity and access to rigorous learning and academic outcomes."

    —Sally J. Bennett-Schmidt, Retired Director of Assessment, San Diego County Office of Education