Author Archives: Jack McDermott

Closing the Experience Gap: How Three Districts Are Addressing Students’ Experiences in School

Earlier this year, I was sitting with a district administrator who said something that caught my attention:

“I know where we have achievement gaps in our district, but my gut is telling me we also have experience gaps.”

I asked her what she meant. “I’m positive that our students of different backgrounds have very different experiences when they walk into our schools. And it’s our job to figure out where those gaps exist and how we can close them.”

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What If Students Have More Confidence in Growth Mindset Than Their Teachers?

Today, schools and districts are making social-emotional development a priority, and with good reason. Research shows that educators play a profound role in promoting students’ social-emotional skills and beliefs.

But what if students have greater confidence that they can improve than their teachers? That’s one of the surprises we found in our recent survey of more than 2,400 teachers and 36,000 students.

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Panorama Selected in CASEL’s Social-Emotional Assessment Design Challenge

Today the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading organization promoting social-emotional learning for children in preschool through high school, selected Panorama Education as a winner in its annual Social-Emotional Learning Assessment Design Challenge.

Launched this year, the award aims to “stimulate the development and adoption of social-emotional assessments that support effective instruction and positive student development.” A panel of judges from school districts, education nonprofits, and research institutions—including those from Stanford University, the CORE Districts, Washoe County School District, Oakland Unified School District, and the University of Michigan—selected the winning social-emotional learning assessment designs.

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Introducing Free Response Analytics

As schools collect feedback from their students, families, and teachers, we hear over and over from educators that some of the most important, actionable information comes from free response comments—and that educators want to hear more from their community. Yet knowing the right questions to ask and sorting through thousands of lines of text can be overwhelming.

About a year ago, we embarked on a journey to rethink free response questions on our surveys. Could we find a way to deliver actionable insights through well-designed questions and best-in-class text analytics?

Today, we’re excited to share the fruits of that project—free response questions that help collect the most relevant feedback from stakeholders, and a new Panorama analytics tool that automatically analyzes free response data in your school or district, visualizes the key themes, and highlights the most important responses for educators.

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measuring school climate

When Measuring School Climate, Context Is Key

As states finalize new school accountability plans under ESSA, measures of school climate have received increasing attention. Many states have included school climate as a “non-academic” indicator of school quality in their recently drafted plans. Meanwhile, groups of educators and students in states from California to Massachusetts have advocated for better approaches to measuring school climate.

While the benefits of a positive school climate have been known for decades–increases in students’ academic achievement, fewer disciplinary incidents, and even improved teacher retention–less is known about the implications of measuring and reporting on school climate in the years ahead.

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How Do You Define a “Peer” School?

Last year, we introduced Panorama’s Benchmarks to add greater context to your perception data. Today, we’re excited to launch a key addition to this feature: Peer Benchmarks.

With Peer Benchmarks, you can interact with our national dataset to make relevant comparisons that reflect your school’s context. By selecting from several school-level characteristics, such as urban middle schools with high percentage of students receiving free and reduced priced lunch, the benchmarks distribution graph will instantly adjust to display survey results from schools that reflect these criteria.

As this feature has been several months in the making, we wanted to share our lessons learned from the analytics and design process that created Peer Benchmarks.

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