Last year I wrote about a new teacher perception survey I helped developed with several colleagues at WKU based on Kentucky's Standards and Indicators for School Improvement. We piloted the survey with eight schools and the results were nothing short of amazing. Now we are seeking more schools to participate in a second round of piloting. Our initial results suggest that our new survey, the School Improvement Scholastic Review (SISR), may yield meaningful data that can help schools direct their improvement efforts toward activities that have a high probability of inceasing student achievement.
Our research team is lead by WKU professor Steve Miller. Our former colleague Kyong Hee Chon, wo served on the initial pilot team, has been replaced by sociology professor Doug Smith. The team is supported by doctoral student and research assistant Richard Hunt.
Dr. Miller has long been interested in the Standards and Indicators for School Improvement. Previous doctoral students working with Dr. Miller established the validity of SISI for accurately describing differences between high- and low-performing schools. But in 2012 the Kentucky Department of Education began partnering with the school accreditation outfit AdvancEd to conduct school-level performance audits. Since AdvancEd had their own standards and indicators framework, SISI was essentially shelved.
Our team believes, however, that SISI is still a research-proven framework that deserves further study. Our new teacher survey updates and revises SISI and asks teachers to rank their school's effectiveness in implementing each of the indicators, as well as the overall level of priority their school is giving each standard for improvement purposes.
We piloted the first draft of the SISR with eight volunteer schools last fall, including eight elementary schools and one middle school representing a diversity of school demographics. After conducting statistical tests on the psychometric properties of the survey, we were delighted to see that each of the nine standards held together as representing distinct aspects of school improvement.
But what amazed us was the correlation we found between teacher perceptions on the survey and student achievement outcomes. Average teacher responses on each of the nine standards were nearly perfectly correlated with the schools' 2013 composite achievement index. This means that if you lined all eight schools up from the lowest to highest achieving, the teacher responses on the survey would also line up in the same order.
Results like this are unheard of in social science research. Granted, the pilot is severely limited by the fact that only eight schools were represented, and this included only one middle school and no high schools. A larger, more diverse dataset is bound to find a weaker correlation with outcomes, but even if the relationship is only half as strong, the survey will still be an extremely valid measure of whether the schools are effectively implementing meaningful school improvement efforts.
In this way, the SISR could be a great complement to the TELL Kentucky survey, which has its strengths but does not appear to distinguish well between high- and low-performing schools. And given the enormous cost and time involved with conducting external school improvement audits, the SISR could also be a useful and inexpensive means of gathering similar data.
We are looking for additional schools to participate in a second round of pilot testing on the survey. If your school or district is interested in contributing to this ground-breaking research, please email me for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. For your participation, your school will receive a data profile showing your areas of strength and weakness relative to the Standards and Indicators along with recommendations for how to apply the results to your school improvement efforts.
I will continue to report our progress with this research as the work unfolds.
UPDATE: Dr. Miller will present results of our first SISR pilot this coming Wednesday, May 21, at the International Conference on Learning and Administration in Higher Education in Nashville. Once we have a larger dataset of pilot schools we will be seeking to publish results in a peer-reviewed research journal.