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Visible Learning

So I recently completed an educational professional development program known as ALPAP.  I guess I should backtrack a little here.  So my name is Jason, and I'm an assistant principal in a New York city public school.  I received a school building leader license in the past 4 years, and because of that, I do not have a permanent certification.  For those of you in New York and are in education, you are probably aware that all current certifications or recent certifications are dubbed as professional certifications.  Therefore we are required to maintain X amount of professional development hours to maintain the license.
The idea behind it was that people would be learning modern theory and would continue to do so throughout their careers.  The people who designed this system felt that once people procured their permanent certification they did little to nothing to improve upon themselves professionally.  Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but that is my understanding as to why the system is structured as it is now.
Well nonetheless, to circle back to my original point, I recently completed a 10 session professional development.  On the last day there was a final presentation by some mentor principals on data driven instruction, and they gave us some books on the subject matter.  One of them being Visible Learning by John Hattie.  So in a nutshell, the book is a collection of other studies, and then what Mr. Hattie does is apply a rating to each strategy/characteristic of education and rates its efficacy in impacting student achievement.  For example:  Acceleration is rated as having an .83 (or 83% to my understanding), so it has a profound impact on student achievement.  While something like summer school has a rating of 0.23, thus it has a relatively low impact on student achievement.
So what I'd like to share here is what Mr. Hattie ranked as the number 1 influence which is self-reported grades, having a rating of 1.44, which is by and far the highest rating in the book.  Self-reported grades is the student's ability to accurately determine what their current depth of knowledge is.  This is important because it shows us what the students perceive as their likelihood of being successful.
Now this portion is my opinion and next steps.  The aforementioned is important because it sets the ceiling and the floor for the students.  This perception that is formed by self-reported grades can either create an atmosphere of high-expectations (if students perceive themselves as A students and are A students), low-expectations (if A students perceive themselves as C students), and/or unrealistic expectations (a C student believes that they are an A student).
Mr. Hattie doesn't offer any opinions or recommendations, he only presents his findings.  To me when I read over this portion the mindset and next steps should be the following:
  1. Have student predict their current standing.
  2. Use data to show them their current standing.
  3. Conference with students to define a clear goal, and an actionable next step to improve upon their current standing.
  4. Follow-up and revisit with students, albeit, formally or informally to see how they are progressing and to hold them accountable.
The hope is that with these actions you can reinforce to exceptional students that they are expected to produce exceptional work products.  While with struggling students you can develop an action plan to improve upon their current standings.  And, with students with unrealistic expectations of themselves, you can use this information to have a brutally honest conversation with them.  But, for all students, I hope, we all hope, that they develop the ability to accurately self-reflect on their progress, as well as apply that practice to their personal lives.


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