Category Archives: Goals

State of the Humanities (End of Quarter 3)

Hey folks!

As we dive into the final Quarter of the year, it’s important that we take stock of the huge progress we have made, but also how much further we need to take our students while we still have time with them. Every quarter, I resort to the following information to help me define our cohort and student trends:

  • Classroom observations from me and your TLD Coach (aligned to Engagement with Rigorous Content and Culture of Achievement).
  • Student achievement data that you share with us.
  • Your responses on professional development exit forms.
  • Your First Eight Weeks and Mid-Year Survey responses.
  • Feedback from our Humanities Leaders.
  • Feedback from you at our Humanities Leader Summit and through our Quarterly PD Survey.
  • Anecdotal and qualitative data such as student work, responses in professional development experiences, and so on.
  • Much more!

These data points provide a fairly holistic picture of where our cohort is in regards to our Vision for the Humanities in Mississippi, specifically in relation to our four outcomes of academic achievement, critical consciousness, cultural competency, and student leadership. So what does this data tell us?

(Note: I’ve taken some of the language about these metrics from Ethan’s great post to the Math cohort – which, in turn, he credited to me! Anyway, if you haven’t taken a look at the Culture of Achievement and Engagement with Rigorous Content frameworks in a while, definitely take a quick look right now – some of the titles like “engaged and on-task,” “apathetic or unruly,” “passive and confused” and so on can actually be misnomers if they are read without the context of how the framework describes these bands).

Data Point #1: Sharing Data – Progress Known, %Benchmark Achieved, and Students

PK and %BA

  • What is Progress Known (PK)?

PK is basically a “Yes” or “No” answer to the question: “do we have reliable and complete data on where students stand in this classroom?” Since %BA (see below) cannot be calculated if we do not have this data, PK is incredibly important as a foundational piece of information.

  • What is %Benchmark Achieved (%BA)?

%BA is the percent of progress that students have made in relation to their quantitative goals for this time of year. This is calculated based on the data that you submit, and the strength of student performance that it represents. Basically, we would like students to be at 75% BA at this point in the year, since we are 3/4 of the way through the year.

  • How do you collect reliable and complete data?

The reliable and complete data comes from you teachers sharing it with your TLD Coach and/or Content Specialist. As long as you have data for student progress on ALL your Metrics , and you have shared a reliable assessment with us, then your students are PK!

  • What does this data tell us?

For the first time all year, during Quarter 3, we started to have a valid quantity of data to analyze! Now that over 80% of our classrooms are assessing students holistically and sharing that data, we can now start to really look at the progress our students are making. I thank ALL of you for prioritizing this in the past quarter, and ensuring that we have valid data to look at together and make decisions from. I believe a huge part of us seeing this result is that we are all committed to the value of our vision for the Humanities. That said, I also know that we also struggle with some of the rubric-rated data that we collect (DBQs, projects, performances, etc) both because it sometimes feels tough to assess, but also because it can seem subjective. I want to encourage us all to work together more to collaboratively norm on these and brainstorm the best ways to share that progress with our students. Sharing rubric data actually means that we are bringing subtlety and complexity to what it means to be a successful artist, musician, language speaker, etc. so this can be a key lever in us gathering our students’ investment in our contents. Ultimately, I think this is where we are struggling (and which is visible in our low %BA): getting students feeling urgent about the content! A big part of that will be in sharing our data with them more effectively.

Data Point #2: Culture of Achievement


  • What is Culture of Achievement (CoA)?

CoA is the quality of the classroom culture that your students enjoy as they are learning. Some people think immediately about “management” but CoA goes well beyond that: it’s the way in which your students actively maintain and foster a positive environment because of the way they care about their learning.

  • How do you collect data around CoA?

CoA is determined by the TLD Coach in collaboration with your thinking after an observation, using the Culture of Achievement Pathways rubric to inform our terminology. This then gets collected in our Program Tracker so we can analyze the data at different levels.

  • What does the CoA data tell us?

As you can see in the above, our students are definitely experiencing more positive classroom environments (including some Joyful and Urgent ones!), but by and large this is a priority in which our classrooms are stagnating. Like at the beginning of the quarter, we are still seeing well over half of our students in classroom environments that are in the lower end of the spectrum, and thus less conducive to learning. This is consistent with the year-long trend we have seen of few collaborative structures taking place in the daily lesson. Key to changing this will be our collaboration and sharing of best practices, as well as an increased sense of urgency and joy for our content as we head into the final 8 weeks of the school year.

Data Point #3: Engagement with Rigorous Content (ERC)


  • What is Engagement with Rigorous Content (ERC)?

ERC is the level of rigor at which students are engaging with the content. Some people think immediately about “difficulty” of the questions being asked by the teacher, but this goes well beyond that: it’s the depth and sophistication with which students are thinking about and working within the content, as well as the purpose with which they do so.

  • How do you collect data around ERC?

ERC is determined by the TLD Coach in collaboration with your thinking after an observation, using the Engagement with Rigorous Content rubric to inform our terminology. This then gets collected in our Program Tracker so we can analyze the data at different levels.

  • What does the ERC data tell us?

 Like with CoA, we are seeing some small and exciting gains in ERC, but also some discouraging signs of stagnation. In addition, it will be unsurprising to find out that the same classrooms that are on the bottom half of the spectrum in CoA are also often on the bottom half of the spectrum in ERC. At the end of the day, I believe that this is because we need to emphasize more student-centered learning, while also focusing on the purpose that our rigorous summatives can give us at this time in the year. 

How will we be supported based on these findings?

I have crafted three priorities for Quarter 4 based on these findings.  The priorities (grouped by student and teacher outcome) are as follows:


Head over to the PD Page of our Professional Development website to see what sessions will be driving towards these priorities, and sign up for them!

For more detail on all of this, as well as a some crucial context, check out Q4 Humanities Priorities document.

So what are your thoughts? What resonates with you about this data, these priorities, and these upcoming experiences? What else do you see in the data and in your own classroom? Fire off below!


An Independent Study in Sharing Data with Students


Hey All!

This week, my time for writing an extended blog post has been limited, so I thought I would actually connect you with a resource that could be really helpful for your classroom, but that someone else on the TFA Mississippi Team created… Shout out to Sarah Blackburn for putting an awesome Independent Study for Sharing Data with students together!

Plus, some of you DID say you wished the Culture Specialist and the Humanities Specialist would collaborate some more… Well, here is the start of it!

NOTE: You will need to ask your TLD Coach if it aligns with your development priorities first, but once you do, you can complete this independent study on your own (obviously), and then use it to share data authentically with your students. You will get a tailored credit as a result! Let me know if you are interested!

To help you with this, this blog post contains:

  • How this aligns to our Humanities Priorities
  • The Link to the Independent Study
  • More Resources for Sharing Data in the Humanities

How this aligns to our Humanities Priorities

This Independent Study is perfectly aligned with our 3rd Priority for this Quarter:

Students are invested in their Humanities-content goals because they see their success as critical to their future leadership, and because they are aware of their progress. This is because teachers are invested in their end-of-year goals and what they represent for students, and thus measuring and sharing progress towards goals with students and stakeholders.

At the end of the day, I simply believe that it is our students’ right to know – with subtlety and beyond the simple “you got a B+” – where they stand in relation to their goals. It’s a question of equity and leveling out the power differential in the classroom. Students should know where they stand and what they can do to change it!

The good news? As a Humanities team, we are in a really strong position to share data with our students. According to the latest information I collected from the Program Tracker, the Humanities Team is actually the strongest content team for data! And this is a first! Historically, we have been one of the furthest behind.

Check out some of the data break-down below, which also indicates that our students are well on their way to reaching their academic goals! There is always room to grow, and for that reason, we should be sharing the data so our students can use it to focus their learning, grown in confidence, and feel celebrated!

Progress Known

Has the teacher submitted valid and accurate data? Do we know where students are in terms of their progress towards goals?

Progress Known? Social Studies The Arts World Languages All Humanities
YES 75% 81% 86% 81%
NO 25% 19% 14% 19%

%Benchmark Achieved

Given our data, what percentage of progress towards goals do we see? (Note: we were not measuring this last semester)

Content: %BA
Science 19.1
Math 30.7
Humanities 38.5
Elementary 29.8
ELA 38.0

The link to the Independent Study

Okay, here it is! The moment you have all been waiting for. The link to the Independent Study is here. Remember to ask your TLD Coach if this is the right development for you before you start!

More Resources for Sharing Data in the Humanities