Positive Slope

Last week, Dr. Nathan Anderson and I presented at the ND AdvancED/Learning Forward conference.  Our main focus was to give districts hands-on, practical strategies for tackling the Student Performance Diagnostic.  We kept our focus to the Top 3 Things to Consider:

  • Data Document
  • Evaluative Criteria
  • Diagnostic Questions

Districts are required to complete all three pieces; the diagnostic questions address areas of notable achievement and areas in need of improvement.  Prior to last spring, the data was available in the SLDS but required much external analyzing.  Because of this, Dr. Anderson created a spreadsheet method of accessing and analyzing the needed data from the SLDS.  It provides customization and is a testament to Nathan’s desire to help schools.  After the SLDS team reviewed the spreadsheet method and many discussions were had, new reports were made available directly on the SLDS titled District AdvancED and School AdvancED.  They tackle the twelve questions directly.

During our presentation, Nathan and I stressed the advantages and disadvantages to each method as nothing is an all inclusive fitting glove.  Each district needs to look at their reality and decide which route makes the most sense for them, whether that is the spreadsheet method created by Nathan, the reports available on the SLDS, or some other method created by an in-house person.  AdvancED exists to improve schools and the only thing that will truly make the improvement occur are the conversations that lead to decisions, not simply the entering the numbers and/or printing of reports.

With that, Nathan and I both feel passionate about data utilization and often joke we are very opposite minded people with the same vision.  In our presentation, I made reference to the spreadsheet being Nathan’s brain and the Data Utopia slide being mine.  We both have a positive slope and we both want what is best for North Dakota students, teachers, and districts.


AdvancED Connection

There are two new reports available to district and school admin. authenticated users of the ND SLDS.  One can be found under the blue “district” bar in the list of PK-12 reports and it’s titled DISTRICT ADVANCED.  The other can be found under the blue “school” bar in the list of PK-12 reports and its titled SCHOOL ADVANCED.

The SLDS team has been diligently working to update its current reports to align with the needs of educational data in the state.  One of the key areas emphasized this year has been the data required for AdvancED.  Last fall, it became apparent the data was available in the SLDS, but it was not analyzable directly from the reports – an external spreadsheet had to be utilized for school districts to answer the questions from AdvancED’s Student Performance Data Document.  Because of this need, updates were made throughout the year to the District Proficiency Trend report and in the spring, entirely new reports were created titled District AdvancED and School AdvancED.

These new reports provide districts the option to use the data available directly from the SLDS, without needing to do any external analyzing.  This advancement in the SLDS has been the combined effort of ITD staff, the Data Steward, REA Data Specialists, and the ND AdvancED Director.  Please note if you export this report, it must be to a PDF.

From the SLDS training completed by the Data Steward this fall, it has become evident districts are finding this report valuable for other data conversations as well such as curriculum/program improvement needs and grant writing.


Leadercast 2015: The Brave Ones

I had the privilege of viewing Leadercast 2015 from the Fargo-Moorhead location.  The theme for this year’s event was “The Brave Ones.”  As the Leadercast team says:

An essential behavior for any leader is the act of bravery.  Bravery is not a moniker that can be bought…it cannot be self-appointed.  Bravery is not attributed to everyone, but is reserved for those whose innovation in their industry cause them to stand out from the crowd, whose unyielding effort and error push their organizations into new territories and whose boldness compels them to stand up for those less fortunate.  These are The Brave Ones.

I personally connected with the notion of being a brave one as a leadership attribute, for when I think of pivotal moments in my career, I think of nothing but the word brave – with the addition of risk.  I believe bravery only can exist in the shadow of risk.

The risk requires the bravery.  The bravery requires the risk.

Without taking risks and being brave, I can honestly say I would not be in the position I am today.

  • It took bravery to take on my first classroom of students on a Monday in January of 2007 with two days of notice.
  • It took bravery to apply to be an instructional coach – to change from being a peer with my fellow teachers to being a different role.
  • It took bravery to walk into my principal’s office and quit the district, not knowing what would come next but knowing something was there.
  • It took bravery to apply for this position, Data Steward.
  • It took bravery to accept the role, knowing full well it was within my comfort zone while all the while being so far outside.

As I look back on those pivotal moments – the moments of seeing the risk, accepting the risk, and jumping for the brave – I know they were right.  Of course, at the time I didn’t because it was unknown.  It was scary.  But my goodness, I am thankful I didn’t turn from the risk and the opportunity to be brave.  I am thankful I leaned into those feelings and landed here.  We are all faced with big moments of risk that require big bravery.  In both career and personal, those moments are there.  However, even more important, we are faced with little moments of risk that require little bravery almost every single day in both career and personal – trying something new, connecting with a coworker, throwing a wild idea on the table, taking a different route, saying something you mean.

Lean in.  Do different.  Be different.  Go for brave.

One item that was discussed over and over at Leadercast 2015 was this notion of being shy about sharing our bravery.  By nature, people come at things with humility and the mindset of “I’m not brave…that’s not me…I don’t do those big things.”  We need to do better.  We need to share our moments of grabbing bravery and running with it because often, that might be the exact inspiration someone needs to take his or her own leap.

Some of my favorite quotes from “The Brave Ones” of Leadercast 2015 who had the courage to share:

“All fearless people are dead.”  Andy Stanley

“Say wow not how.” Andy Stanley

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”  Andy Stanley

“Forget your weaknesses.  Focus on your strengths.”  Bill McDermott

“Fear and bravery only exist with each other.”  CMDR Rorke Denver

“Limit your field of view and you’ll see.”  CMDR Rorke Denver

“Our culture wants others to be brave – for us to fit in and conform.  But, bravery isn’t for other people anymore.”  Seth Godin

“Change has a twin sister and her name is tension.  We have been trained to get rid of tension but you can’t change without tension.”  Seth Godin

“Dreams don’t take bravery…DOING something does.”  Seth Godin

“There’s a difference between looking back at it dumb and dumb at the time of doing it.”  Ed Catmull

“Creativity is the process by which we solve problems.”  Ed Catmull

“Nobody is born a leader.  Leaders are made.”  Rudy Guiliani

We believe that individuals must choose to operate in ways that make them worth following…we must make our leadership come to life for those around us who are looking for someone to follow.  Leadercast Team