STC Chicago hosted a Study Tour at Belding Elementary, a neighborhood school that earned the coveted “Level 1+” rating from CPS. We asked them to share practices that have fueled their success, specifically their MAP data conferencing, and we were able to witness some of this work in action. Participants were a lively mix of administrators, teachers, and instructional coaches, representing a great opportunity for a district school to share their best practices with our network.

After a continental breakfast and a greeting from Principal Heather Yutzy, we heard from Belding teachers about how they use NWEA MAP data to inform their instruction. We also observed two (actual) student data conferences, fishbowl-style, led by the principal. Participants received tangible resources for implementing these practices at their schools, such as a goal setting template and a professional reading. They also had the chance to ask questions and share their own best practices and challenges regarding the MAP assessment with their cross-sector colleagues.

Recently, I read an article in EdWeek Teacher called “The Promise and Peril of Turning Student Learning Into a Number.” It touches on many of the themes from this session, notably the importance of speaking from a growth mindset perspective and not confusing the means (assessment) with the ends (learning). Whether you were able to attend the session or not, this piece provides a valuable perspective during a time when battles over assessment are at a fever pitch.

Upon reflecting, I feel this event represents a turning point for STC Chicago: it’s our second event (ever) at a district school, it’s our second event (ever) with 15 or more participants, and it just felt like the right topic at the right time. Further, this event showed that cross-sector conversations can go in many directions – it’s not just about charters sharing their work, but rather it’s about how we can all share and learn from each other.

We’ve turned a corner here: we have three new applicant schools, we’ve increased the frequency of our events, and both current and new schools are trusting that our offerings have value as evidenced by their participation. We look forward to building on this momentum through the spring semester and into next year. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your ideas for relevant event topics or opportunities you’d like us to provide.