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Visible LearningHow Valley View Schools Engaged in a Districtwide Dialogue About Learning

Valley View School District 365U
Romeoville, IL
Student population: 17,633
Free/reduced lunch: 62%
English learner population: 12.8%

Context
Prior to Visible Learningplus, teams of school and teacher leaders from Valley View School District met each summer to analyze student data from state achievement tests and other common assessments. While this data was valuable, it was not being used to shape professional development plans or instructional strategies.

“We spent a lot of time ensuring we had the data needed to make informed instructional decisions, yet we still struggled to analyze the data to evaluate programs and practices and determine their impact on student learning,” said Dr. James Mitchem, Superintendent.

eLibrary stock photo

eLibrary stock photo

 

 

 

 

Small Beginnings
In Spring 2013, Karen Flories, Executive Director for Educational Services 6–12, and Rachel Kinder, Assistant Superintendent, delved deeply into the research of Professor John Hattie and his landmark work, Visible Learning (2008). Flories and Kinder realized that Visible Learning had to become the basis for professional practice across the district.

Building a Foundation
The Valley view leadership team attended multiple planning calls with Corwin staff and Visible Learning trainers until they had a professional development plan that was customized to meet their needs and desire for deep, district-wide implementation.

"Our trainer Dave Nagel and the Corwin team have taken a vested interest in ensuring not only that our training days were successful but that the work is supported in a deep and meaningful way," said Kinder.

In June 2014, all building-level administrators and teacher leaders attended the first two workshops of the Visible Learning Foundation Series (Foundation Day and Evidence Into Action I workshops). Attendees studied the key messages of the Visible Learning research and were given data-gathering tools and processes to measure their impact on student achievement.

“There was a lot of excitement to implement professional development plans focused on research-based best practices and solid evidence collection. The collaboration between building administrators and teacher leaders was strong and set the foundation for solid development of building plans for the upcoming school year,” said Flories.

Year I (2014-2015)
During its first year, the district focused on voice and dialogue. Teacher and student voice became one important measure of evidence that Valley View district leaders used to gauge and monitor the impact of professional development.

“We engaged in a lot of dialogue with building leaders throughout the school year, which helped us determine where we needed to continue to support the Visible Learning work,” said Kinder.

In addition, teachers and leaders began viewing themselves as evaluators of their impact. Student assessment results are viewed as feedback for the staff. The Valley View educators are becoming change agents by focusing on solutions instead of dwelling on their challenges.

"We needed something that could help us focus our professional practice so we were collectively making the greatest possible impact on student growth and achievement. Visible Learning provided the compass we needed to do just that," said Flories.

What’s Next?
Beginning in Fall 2015, Valley View schools will focus on strengthening their shared language of learning. Leaders will be intentional about supporting and monitoring the next steps in their Visible Learningplus journey. Valley View leaders are excited to continue to deeply implement all of the Visible Learningplus strands throughout the district.


At a Glance: How Valley View got started

Valley View leadership introduced Visible Learningplus to the district in phases. Cohort 1, consisting of all district and school leaders and 5-6 lead teachers from each building, completed the Foundation Series in June 2014. To deeply embed Visible Learning practices throughout the district, Cohort 1 participated in implementation days led by Visible Learningplus consultants to create a Visible Learning rollout plan for all staff. Cohort 2, consisting of additional elementary and secondary teachers, attended the Foundation Day and Visible Learning Into Action I for Teachers workshops in June 2015.

Workshop Date Participants
Foundation Day June 2014 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers
Evidence Into Action I June 2014 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers
Implementation Day: Planning July 2014 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers
Evidence Into Action II October 2014 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers
Implementation Day: Planning February 2015 Cohort 1: District and school leaders
Inside Series Workshop: Creating Effective Assessments for Teaching and Learning June 2015 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers
Inside Series Workshop: Using Data to Evaluate Your Impact June 2015 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers
Foundation Day / Visible Learning Into Action I June 2015 Cohort 2: Elementary teachers
Foundation Day / Visible Learning Into Action I June 2015 Cohort 2: Secondary teachers
Implementation Day: Planning June 2015 Cohort 1: District and school leaders, lead teachers

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