What We Do
We crunch the numbers.
Data is the lifeblood of tracking the progress of student achievement. It comes in from testing, from school assignments, from location, from State measurements and ongoing research. We do everything we can to transform the numbers into empowerment and useful information for those on the front lines pushing, prodding and inspiring our students to greater achievement.
The Palm Beach County School District has at any given time a great many educational programs being tested or implemented within the district in its constant search for every possible way to better prepare our students for the challenges ahead of them in an ever changing world. We evaluate the effectiveness of these programs by measuring them against objective standards to make sure they are serving the needs of the students and the educational professionals using them.
Our research staff is made up of serious scholars who have studied in depth the process of educating young people and who keep us up-to-date and aware of all the latest discoveries in increasing student achievement. We also manage and supervise outside researchers who seek information about our students so that they are compliant with Federal law and with high standards for protection of privacy.
How We Work
Educational standards constantly evolve and improve and provide a constantly moving set of targets for our various specialist technologies to address. Amongst our many goals:
Responding to increasing demand for reports, analyses and evaluations. The District's quest to dramatically improve student achievement has resulted in a significant increase...
In order to provide the highest quality of work we can, we have developed a methodology based on the Standing Orders of Rogers' Rangers from 1759
Often, people making requests for information do not know exactly what information they are asking for.We try to make sure we are in total agreement as to ....
Responding to increasing demand for reports, analyses and evaluations.
The District's quest to dramatically improve student achievement has resulted in a significant increase in ad hoc research requests for the Department to complete, as many as 100 such requests in the past year alone. These tasks vary from analyzing acceleration in AP participation to determining yearly growth in the graduation rate.
Further improvement to the user experience with products jointly produced with EDW.
The SDPBC is widely recognized at the State and National levels as having one of the premier EDWs in North America. Research and Evaluation is proud of its role in helping the District achieve this distinction. This year, in cooperation with the EDW, we are developing the following EDW applications: • A revision of the Key Results Scorecard to reflect new FY2010 FDOE high school grading rules, • Proportion of A Year's Growth made by various groups of District students in reading and in mathematics, • A replacement for the School Effectiveness Questionnaire (SEQ).
Empowering the Children's Services Council by providing better data to drive decisions.
In FY2002 the SDPBC and Children's Services Council established a partnership in which, in return for funding a specialist's position within the Department of Research and Evaluation, the Department would dedicate that specialist to the compilation and delivery of data to the CSC, both at the aggregate and individual student levels and conduct other analyses and evaluations as required by the CSC. This year, to strengthen this already healthy partnership, the Department and CSC staff members are conducting ongoing, face to face meetings to pinpoint CSC data needs and to conduct advanced statistical analysis for CSC program evaluations.
Streamlining and improving quality of district produced assessments
Our Department programmers have replaced all Diagnostic tests in Reading, Mathematics, and Science by creating application software for the development and storage of items that automate the assembly of tests, produce answer keys, and provide the supporting data needed to score the tests. Results from these new assessments are compiled by our Department and then reported to EDW for use by schools.
Aligning Student Performance to National and International Standards
The Superintendent has stated on several occasions that he expects the District to become the best in the Nation. To that end, the Department aligned the State's FCAT Assessment Program results to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) and TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) score scales. The study results revealed that under the NAEP standard, our District performed better than or similar to the National average at basic and proficient levels for grade 4 and 8 reading and mathematics in FY2009.
Strengthening Program Evaluation products.
Creation of a New Policy for Research Requests The Department is formulating a new comprehensive policy for research requests in collaboration with the District's Legal Department and the IT Department of Applications Support and Quality Assurance.
Addressing Research Requests more effectively.
The Department is formulating a new comprehensive policy for research requests in collaboration with the District's Legal Department and the IT Department of Applications Support and Quality Assurance.
Often, people making requests for information do not know exactly what information they are asking for. We try to make sure we are in total agreement as to what the product will look like and what questions it will answer before we begin our work.
We do not have the option of turning down projects, but we do have options regarding how we approach a project. Before we begin, we reflect upon which approach:
- Would bring the most peace of mind and the most increased understanding of worldly things and processes
- Would bring the most outcome for the least effort
- Would be of the highest quality in the time allowed
- Would become the most maintainable way of doing the same thing in the future, should that become necessary.
When we have finished quality control of a project, we ask ourselves if there is anything else we could do in the time available to make all of us feel more comfortable about its accuracy and format. If the answer is 'yes,' we do it. If the answer is 'no,' we're finished. We push it out and move on.
We report the truth as we know it, and report the limitation of our ability to know it. We take comfort in both.