More Than Numbers: A District Perspective

Twelve Fitchburg Public School staff took the More Than Numbers: Improving School Culture and Student Performance Through Data online course in the spring/summer of 2021.  Jonathan Thompson, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Title I, coordinated the effort and reflects on the course's impact.

This course addressed real concerns that schools and districts are facing as they struggle to meet the needs of all students - those at or above benchmark as well as those functioning below benchmark. The content was eye-opening and the approach so real.  The course taught the concepts, processes, and skills while the pictures and videos provided clear real-life examples of the skills in action. Course participants were provided the opportunity to see and hear real teachers sharing their own personal experiences as they moved through the journey of learning the  process of understanding and using their data in a way that is hands-on and visual while building a strong school culture. This course reinforced my belief in the importance of school culture as the crucial first step in the process of sharing, discussing, and learning from data resulting in administrator, teacher and student growth. 

The administrators and instructional coach who participated really enjoyed the course. Staff commented that the course provided them with clear steps on how to hold an effective data meeting. Having all teachers complete the The Instructional Planning Sheet during a data meeting provided teachers with a clear next steps on the instructional strategies needed to improve students reading skills. A particularly useful tool was the four square, which helps teachers group students according to their needs(phonics, fluency, comprehension).  This then allows the teacher to plan instruction focused on students specific needs. 

“The content was eye-opening. It was interesting to hear teachers talk about their process and journey building a professional culture and then to hear from the principals.”
- Alma Notaro, Literacy Coach at Fitchburg High School

“The activities and videos in the course did a great job reinforcing the work.”
- Alicia Berrospe, Director of Special Education, Fitchburg Public Schools

This course will benefit a district/school when it comes to improving educators' understanding about data literacy. Data literacy for educators is the ability to transform information into actionable knowledge.  When educators use data literacy to access their students and adjust their lessons, they will see an increase in student learning and achievement. This course will provide educators with the knowledge they need to improve student outcomes. 

Learn More about the More Than Numbers course here.


Jonathan Thompson is the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculu and Title 1 for Fitchburg Public Schools.  He can be reached at