GROTON — Spearheaded by Assistant Superintendent of Schools Katie Novak, the school district’s use of the state’s new Department of Elementary and Secondary Education resource for tracking data, resulted in the district being featured in the department’s annual report.
The mention in the high-profile annual report is the culmination of the district’s use of data to better spend money and utilize resources in accordance with department regulations and a program known as RADAR, or Resource Allocation and District Action Reports.
Novak and her team at the school district used these resources to study, among other things, inequities in student learning.
“Groton-Dunstable has been an enthusiastic and effective user of our tool,” said department spokesman Jacqueline Reis is a statement. “RADAR was designed to help districts use the funding and staff that they have in the most effective way possible. It allows districts to compare themselves to similar districts, identify trends in their own district over time, and better plan for the future. Groton-Dunstable has made excellent use of RADAR, and it was a pleasure to highlight them in our annual report.”
The discoveries made, and the processes used to dig at the root of the problem earned the district a mention in the department’s fifth pillar of educational improvement: Enhance resource allocation and data use.
Using RADAR, the district leaders gathered not just information about their own network of schools but comparative data against state averages, similar districts, neighboring districts and recommended practices.
Novak, along with Superintendent of Schools Laura Chesson and several educators, prepared a video that highlights their methods and findings. That video is one of the centerpieces of the department report. It is available for public viewing on both the school department and department websites. In it, the administrators and several teachers explain how the state’s resources helped them examine their own resources.
Chesson lays most of the praise on the teachers, lauding them for using data to develop strategies and improve methods. “In some cases we have seen that frequent data analysis, and the response to this analysis, has resulted in improvement in student literacy skills 200 percent in less than a semester,” she said in a release. “None of this would have been possible without the outstanding efforts of our teachers.”
The school district is one of only 52 schools in the state (out of more than 1,800) to be highlighted as “schools of recognition” for high achievement, high growth or significantly exceeding their targets under the new accountability system. The discoveries made from the collected data allows teachers to target students who need additional supports.