1. Show value added. A one-shot look at any measurement-whether test scores, student work, or college admissions rates-necessarily misrepresents your program. To give a more accurate picture, always describe the point your school is working from, and progress you have made toward a particular goal or standard.
2. Juxtapose all test score data with other relevant data. Wherever possible, “triangulate” your data-for example, present findings about student learning outcomes alongside information about students’ attitudes toward school and data about demographicsor socioeconomic status. To prevent inaccurate generalizations, aggregate or sub-aggregate information to make clear which students it represents, and make sure comparisons are fair among student groups and jurisdictions. (Are these the same students represented by earlier data, for example?) Provide plenty of context, even to the point of graphically linking test data to contextual information so it can’t be reproduced in isolation.
3. Use simple language. Describe your progress in honest, clear terms that anyone can understand. When presenting statistical data, use charts or graphs; when talking about more holistic concepts (such as “active learning”) use examples: a videotape, a sample piece of student work, what students and parents say about the meaning or importance of their work. Publish your rubrics for performance assessment and compile a collection of examples of work at each level, to give parents and outsiders a clear picture of what your standards look like in practice.
4. Ask parents and community members to present your progress. They are the critical audience you want to reach and they know best what to include. Purposely ask critics of the program to help communicate what’s good about your school in an honest and forthright way. (Thanks to Steven Jubb of the California State Restructuring Office for many of these insights.)