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LearnLaunch Conference

I had an awesome time presenting and participating at the first-ever LearnLaunch conference this past weekend. Our panel’s focus was “targeting underserved populations to help them improve learning outcomes.” Our moderator was Melissa Dodd (CIO of Boston Public Schools) and my fellow panelists were John Maycock (Co-Founder and President of the Achievement Network) and John Werner (Managing Director and Chief Mobilizing Officer, Citizen Schools and Founder, TEDxBeaconStreet). I felt honored to sit on a panel with folks who have so much experience serving underserved populations…and enjoyed seeing their perspectives. It is easy to think only at the classroom-level and about the day-to-day issues in one’s schools, and to focus on how much we still have to overcome with targeting underserved populations, so it’s important to reflect on successes and to think at a systemic level.

Our questions were:

1. When you survey the landscape of education reform, and look at how data and assessment are being used to try to accelerate student performance, what are some of the most promising practices that you see? What obstacles do districts or schools face in adopting these practices? What conditions need to be in place for them to used successfully?

2. With the focus on data, have people’s beliefs about student learning and capacity for learning been altered and if so, in what ways? And how do you think practices have shifted as a result of the focus on data-informed decision making?- BPS – data warehouse, using ATI (assessment technology)

3. What is the experience of students? Are they part of the conversation around how we make sense of their learning data and inform what/how they are learning?- Not as much as they should be. They’re often unaware of how things like showing up tardy to school and studying for standardized tests affect their performance — wondering why they’re not doing well in 1st period English or haven’t improved at the SAT between junior and senior year. Some of my students are getting better at tracking their scores with my standards-based grading, but the majority of them forget to log in and check what their grades are.

4. In education, we place significant emphasis on collecting, analyzing and understanding data. But then what? What are some of the most innovative practices you have seen, by teachers, students, and/or administrators in schools in response to data and assessment?- Use that data for interventions

5. For the participants here, what is one thing that you’d like them to know about how educational technology can best support the learning needs of students?

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