Rowland Unified School District (RUSD)
TERC Using Data Partner: 2010-12
Rowland Unified School District (RUSD) started with a vision and some core beliefs. These important rudiments led them toward building a culture of using data to inform and improve—from central office to classroom. They came to recognize data not as a compliance issue, but a means to inform solutions and monitor ongoing progress. Their story of using data for meaningful change can serve as a touchstone to inspire others.
In 2009, the district, situated in Los Angeles County California, was designated in “needs improvement” status and given a state mandate to develop an improvement plan to make Academic Performance Index (API) gains. Determined to turn things around, district leaders sought to establish a uniform set of proven structures and data analysis processes that would support a rich district-wide data-literate culture. They strongly believed that central office and school administrators must understand and model exemplary data literacy skills for staff, as well as support the development of teacher-level data leaders.
Leaders invested in professional development, making time for collaborative inquiry, and modeling data use practices that work. Over a three-year period, these efforts resulted in growth from 53% to 84% of schools meeting API targets. Overall, the district met API targets in 2013 for every student subgroup except students with disabilities, and that still represented a 29-point average jump over their 2009 API base.
Education leaders in Rowland Unified can be applauded for their firm understanding that there is no “magic bullet.” Change takes time, commitment, and grit; and they planned for the long and steady road toward improvement.
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