The PICCS Model
You’ve seen the headlines, “Duncan Calls for Higher US Graduation Rate”, “US Education Secretary Calls for More Teacher-District Cooperation”. You may have seen the movie, “Waiting for Superman”. The bottom line is that the education system in the United States is in search of new ways to improve student achievement.
Depending on who you are, the opinions vary on when, how soon, or even if this goal can be achieved. But if you’re a teacher or administrator from one of 22 public charter schools in New York City and Buffalo, the question is not if but, “When?” and “How far can we go?”
Led by the Center for Educational Innovation – Public Education Association (CEI-PEA), the Partnership for Innovation in Compensation for Charter Schools (PICCS) program is a school improvement model utilizing performance-based compensation. Through this model, CEI-PEA delivers support, software, and services to charter schools based on three key components.
3 Components for Data-Based Decision Making
The PICCS school improvement model supports the effective use of data to drive decision-making and differentiate instruction through the development of data teams at each school and through the following processes:
1.Data Planning and Monitoring through the PICCS Data Warehouse – PICCS has developed a comprehensive data warehouse that allows each school to store student data, generate on-demand reports, create and update student/cohort/classroom/schoolwide achievement plans, and measure the impact of specific resources and professional development on the achievement of target outcomes.
2. Collaboration and Communication through the PICCS website and the myPICCS Portal – In order to facilitate communication and collaboration within and across the PICCS schools, the PICCS website and the myPICCS portal give educators access to highly secure web 2.0 tools such as web-based libraries, calendars, forums, wikis and blogs. The use of web groups within the portal allows educators to form teams around specific issues, subjects, interest areas, and practices.
3. Curriculum Mapping and Differentiated Instruction using PerformancePLUS – Through a partnership with SunGard K-12 Education, PICCS provides a comprehensive suite of web-based tools that allow teachers to build collegial relationships. Through these relationships, teachers make data-based decisions about grade-level, cross-grade level, disciplinary, and cross-disciplinary curricula and instructional practices.
PICCS began implementing the PerformancePLUS tools in the second half of 2008 and, with the support of Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) grants, has expanded its use of these tools to include technology-supported development of Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for students at each PICCS school.
How PerformancePLUS Helps PICCS Schools Build a Data-Informed Culture
The PICCS model employs the full suite of assessment and curriculum management tools included with PerformancePLUS including PerformanceTRACKER (for student performance tracking and analysis), AssessmentBUILDER (for building and scoring local benchmark assessments), and CurriculumCONNECTOR (for building, sharing, and analyzing a comprehensive standards-based curriculum).
Teachers and administrators are using PerformanceTRACKER to infuse decision-making with near real-time student data that is correlated to state standards. This information helps drive conversations that are based on facts instead of anecdotes.
In order to effectively track student performance, teachers are preparing local benchmark assessments using AssessmentBUILDER. With automatic scoring and uploading to PerformanceTRACKER, this software helps teachers spend less time grading assessments and more time focusing on specific student issues raised in the assessment.
After teachers and administrators get a full picture of student achievement, CurriculumCONNECTOR helps them find gaps in student learning and revise curriculum to meet the challenges posed. With this new digital curriculum, teachers and administrators now have a live resource that facilitates professional conversations around the written and taught curriculum.
Driving Collaboration Across Traditional Boundaries
Prior to joining the PICCS project, a striking similarity existed between these charter schools (predominantly free and reduced lunch schools) and many public schools across the nation – they weren’t sharing information or practices across school boundaries.
With implementation of the PICCS project, that is beginning to change. Within these charter schools there are no central offices and it presents a challenge for principals to collaborate with other schools. In response, the model encourages the development of teacher leaders and data coordinators (typically teachers in each school).
Cooperating with CEI-PEA, these teacher leaders meet on a monthly basis to train, share resources, and collaborate on what’s working and what is not in each of their schools.
The data culled from PerformanceTRACKER and CurriculumCONNECTOR often helps facilitate these meetings.
“The use of data becomes a very essential piece of the process,” said Frank San Felice, Director of the PICCS project.