Prepare and Share Data About the Success Gaps

Collecting and evaluating data is extremely important in the process of discovering the root causes of success gaps in order to identify appropriate solutions. Unfortunately, it may be challenging to understand and interpret the data collected.

What Data Should Leaders Prepare to Share?

In building understanding, leaders (e.g., equity lead, data lead) must prepare multiple sources of data in advance to support their team. They will need to consider carefully the types of data available and how they may need the data broken down to review all of their relevant elements. Having the data in advance will ensure every team member has time to review and interpret the meaning for him or herself. Then, as the members come together as a team, the diverse perspectives will allow the group to make nuanced meaning of the data and develop a detailed understanding of the situation the data represent.

As you decide what data to share and how to present the information, consider the following:

What are your success gaps?
  • ­What data clearly show the gaps, thereby establishing the rationale for selecting a particular group of children and a specific outcome?
What do the data suggest when you aggregate them at the district or school level?
  • ­How do district data compare to state data?
  • ­How do school data compare to district data?
What are the gaps when you disaggregate the data?
  • ­What nuances or differences do you see by grade, gender, race/ethnicity, or other demographics?
  • ­What are the differences by other student subgroups such as students with and without disabilities, specific disability categories, English learner/non-English learner, migrant/ nonmigrant, economically disadvantaged/noneconomically disadvantaged?
What different ways can you group the data?
  • ­Are you considering the full array of demographic data such as race/ethnicity, disability/no disability, gender, grade or school level (high school, middle school, elementary), economically disadvantaged/not disadvantaged, English learner/non-English learner, migrant/nonmigrant, and any other grouping?
What are other data related to the data about the success gaps?
  • ­For example, if your success gap is about achievement results, can you break each proficiency level down by demographic data? Can you equate proficiency levels with attendance data?
  • ­If your gap is about dropout rates, can you look at attendance and class passing rates for each group of students and make some comparisons?

Be prepared for the team’s conversation to lead in directions you might not have predicted. Make sure the equity lead and/or data lead has related data on hand that can be easily manipulated (e.g., via a spreadsheet), as needed, so that the team can look at the data in multiple ways. Ensure there is a time during your team meeting for further dialogue about what the data cannot tell you, such as about the lived experience of the students or the influence that other systemic inequities may have on the data.

Refining the Initial Success Gap Statement

Once you and your team have thoroughly examined your data from many different angles, you can use the information you have collected to refine your success gap statement further into a more specific and descriptive statement.

The final success gap statement your team creates should describe the gap between the current condition and the desired condition. Having a precise and descriptive success gap statement that includes more detail than your initial statement will help your team think specifically about the barriers and challenges the group(s) of children face. This analysis is critical as you begin to explore the root causes in your district’s or school’s systems and structures.

Be mindful not to include causes or possible solutions in your final statement. Causes and solutions will come after your team has had a chance to examine your district’s or school’s current practices, procedures, and policies to identify potential barriers to equitable opportunities for all children.

Prepare and Share Data About Success Gaps

As noted above, starting with a predetermined root cause may prevent the equity team from understanding and using the data to determine the true root cause. Listen as IDC’s TA specialists discuss the need to dig deeper into the data to uncover a more specific success gap statement.

The refined success gap statement should include information that describes each of these elements:

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  • What is happening?
  • Whom does the problem affect?
  • Where is the problem occurring?
  • When is the problem occurring?
  • How often is the problem occurring?
  • To what extent?
  • How do you know?
  • Refined Success Gap Statement

Following are two examples of success gap statements that incorporate these critical elements.

Example 1
Example 2

Initial Success Gap Statement

In Smithfield district, children with disabilities in elementary school are scoring at 60% or less proficiency in reading.

What is happening?
  • We are not serving our children with disabilities in a way that allows them to meet mid-year oral reading fluency targets.
Whom does the problem affect?
  • The problem affects children in all disability categories, especially children with specific learning disabilities who are also English learners.
Where is the problem occurring?
  • The problem is first evident in third grade; however, 34 out of 47 of the same children also did not meet beginning-of-year targets, suggesting that the problem begins earlier than third grade.
When is the problem occurring? How often?
  • The problem has persisted in mid-year screenings since 2012.
To what extent is the problem occurring? What is the current level compared to the desired level?
  • Our district’s goal is to ensure that at least 80% of students reach the mid-year targets; currently, we are only helping 30% to meet this goal.
How do you know? What evidence supports your statement?
  • Oral reading fluency screening data show this gap, but we also can see it when looking at state assessment data, and the gap persists into the later grades.

Refined Success Gap Statement

We are only supporting 30% of our third-grade children with disabilities to meet mid-year oral reading fluency targets; 34 out of 47 of the same group of children did not meet the beginning-of-year targets, suggesting earlier system failures.

Initial Success Gap Statement

Black or African American students are receiving office referrals for behavior at 4 times the rate of students of other races and ethnicities.

What is happening?
  • Office referrals due to disciplinary infractions have increased dramatically this year. Office referrals equal 0.82 referrals per day per month per 100 children, exceeding the target of 0.5 referrals per day per month per 100 children.
Whom does the problem affect?
  • Ninth- and tenth-grade Black or African American students referred for disrespect or disruption.
Where is the problem occurring?
  • Most referrals are coming from classrooms.
When is the problem occurring? How often?
  • Over the last 3 months.
To what extent is the problem occurring? What is the current level compared to the desired level?
  • Over the last 3 months, twice as many Black or African American ninth- and tenth-graders, compared to other student groups, have had office referrals.
How do you know? What evidence supports your statement?
  • Of the ninth- and tenth-graders referred in the last 3 months, three-quarters of the referrals are for Black or African American children referred from their classrooms for either disrespect or disruption.

Refined Success Gap Statement

When we review office referral data disaggregated by racial/ethnic group, grade level, and location for the last 6 months, the data indicate that twice as many ninth- and tenth-graders have been referred to the office in the last 3 months. Of these students, three-quarters are Black or African American students referred from their classrooms for either disrespect or disruption.

Up Next:
Determine Actionable Root Cause(s)

Dig deeply into the data to identify and validate root causes of the success gap and prioritize actionable root causes through use of the Success Gaps Rubric, other data sources, and discussion at team meetings.