“I was pouring my heart and my soul into my class. However, instead of enjoying teaching, and instead of the students enjoying learning … I was dreading coming into work every day, and the students could feel it.”
That’s how middle school teacher Anna Stewart felt when she began using the Elevate student voice platform in fall 2021 as part of Impact Florida’s Solving with Students Cadre, a network of teachers focused on improving students’ experiences in math. When her students took the Elevate survey, only 29% felt that lessons were relevant to their lives and only 46% felt cared for in her class. Stewart knew things had to change.
With support from colleagues in the Solving with Students Cadre, Stewart shared the data with her students and, together, they brainstormed ideas to make class more engaging. As she implemented students’ suggestions, Stewart recognized that her students were taking more ownership over their learning.
Stewart continued to administer the Elevate survey every few months to understand how the practice changes were affecting her students’ classroom experiences. By the end of the year, the survey results told an entirely new story: The share of her students who saw lessons as personally relevant skyrocketed from 29% to 83%, and the share who felt cared for grew by 40%. “We slowly became a family,” says Stewart. “I was no longer stressed and exhausted at the end of the day when I got home.”
Elevate is a professional learning platform that supports educators to measure and continuously improve student experiences. Elevate provides validated psychometric instruments to collect data from students about their experiences.
Teachers receive disaggregated data about their own students from brief (five- to eight-minute) surveys within a week so that teachers can collect data several times to track what’s working. School and district leaders receive reports to track student experiences at a school or district level.
Elevate also provides professional learning support, including community of practice meeting protocols, practice guides, and access to educators across the country who are centering student voice. Learn more at perts.net/elevate
Even though most schools collect student voice data, stories like Stewart’s remain rare. The reason is simple: Teachers don’t often get the right support to act on student feedback effectively. Fortunately, that’s changing.
Stewart and many other educators and organizations are using a tool called Elevate to learn how student voice data can be used to drive transformation. Elevate is a continuous improvement platform designed to help educators measure, disaggregate, and track key classroom learning conditions.
Educators use Elevate surveys over multiple cycles of inquiry and action to fine-tune the learning environment for students, focusing on learning conditions that are strong predictors of student engagement and accelerated learning outcomes (Gripshover et al., 2022). For example, an educator might use Elevate’s meaningful work measure to learn that only 40% of their students find assignments to be meaningful and then reassess meaningful work to test the impact of a new practice that was intended to make work more meaningful.
PERTS, the organization that designed Elevate, is continually learning with and from the educators and organizations who are using it to systematically improve learning conditions. Many of the Networks for School Improvement funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which are highlighted in this issue of The Learning Professional, are incorporating Elevate into their work, and from them we have learned much about the professional learning required to support teachers in this kind of work. You can read more about their work and what they are learning from Elevate on p. 70.
Reflection and planning
We have synthesized our learning into a brief series of reflection and planning exercises. You can view and use the tool by clicking on the pdf below. We hope that the questions, planning prompts, and resources will prove helpful to school and district leaders who want to use student voice data for improvement.
Download the tool here.
Gripshover, S., Ashoka, E., Diaz de Lewis, L., Zeiger, A., & Paunesku, D. (2023). Elevate in Action case study series. perts.net/elevate/case-study-series
Gripshover, S., Londerée, A., Ahuvia., A., Shyjka, A., Kroshinsky, F., Ryan, N., Farrington, C., & Paunesku, D. (2022). Learning conditions are an actionable, early indicator of math learning. perts.net/research/early-indicators
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