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Using Data to Go Beyond Feel-Good Conversations with Families in Puerto Rico

Northeast & Islands | February 15, 2024

A teacher

Over the past six years, the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) has been working to expand and systematize the use of educational data across the Island. Through their data coaching initiative, educators and administrators in each of the seven regions have learned to effectively use data to improve instruction and outcomes for students.

During this time, families began asking for more information and guidance on how to support their students' academic success. Teachers, however, were feeling unprepared to facilitate data-focused conversations with families about student learning needs. Conversations such as these can feel intimidating and uncomfortable compared to their typical parent-teacher conferences which often emphasize the good and downplay achievement struggles.

To address this need, in 2022 PRDE and REL Northeast & Islands established the Puerto Rico Partnership to Engage Families in Data to build teachers' capacity to communicate with families about students' academic and behavioral progress. To do this, they piloted Academic Parent-Teacher Teams (APTT), a model that uses student progress data to enrich and inform communication and collaboration with families.

About the Model

Fact sheet about the APTT model

Download a fact sheet about the APTT model.

APTT is an evidence-informed strategy to facilitate data-driven conversations with families. The APTT model is grounded in the idea that students thrive when families and teachers have the time and space to work together as genuine partners to maximize learning beyond the classroom. When teachers engage in data conversations with families, it builds awareness and increases transparency about school performance, student learning needs, and what families can do to support their student's growth and improvement.

The model structure prescribes three team meetings which include all the families in a classroom together, and one individual session between the teacher, the student, and the student's family. Meetings are designed to be inclusive and dynamic and to encourage parents' voices and active learning. The meetings last 75 minutes and include six essential elements:

  1. A team building activity
  2. Instruction on key grade-level concepts
  3. Review and discussion of student progress data
  4. Modeling of practice activities
  5. Activity practice
  6. Goal setting

About the Pilot

Teachers, administrators, and regional staff from the Ponce region complete APTT training with REL Northeast & Islands staff, February 2023

Teachers, administrators, and regional staff from the Ponce region complete APTT training with REL Northeast & Islands staff, February 2023.

The aim of the APTT pilot is to engage families in intentional and targeted learning activities facilitated by the classroom teacher to strengthen parent capacity and bolster family learning support to promote student academic growth. Three schools joined the pilot—Escuela Luis Munoz Rivera and Escuela Pedro Colon Santiago in the Ponce region and Escuela Factor V in the Arecibo region. During the 2022/23 school year, the three schools initiated the first phase of the pilot, which included an orientation to the APTT model and professional development for PRDE, school principals, regional data coaches, and participating teachers.

To prepare for the initial team meetings, REL Northeast & Islands coaches met individually with the teachers in each school to discuss data sources, key academic concepts, the activities to be shared with families, and other logistical details, with a special focus on family outreach and personal invitations to ensure high family participation.

Teachers held their first APTT team meetings in spring 2023. During the team meetings, REL Northeast & Islands coaches took copious notes and gathered feedback from parents, teachers, and administrators. After the meeting, coaches conducted a follow-up session with teachers to celebrate, debrief, and set improvement goals.

Families who attended the team meetings expressed their appreciation to teachers for sharing and clearly explaining student progress data and for providing guidance on how to encourage learning at home.

APTT Implementation and Support Cycles

APTT Implementation and Support Cycles

Families and educators' positive feedback fueled enthusiasm for the next phase of the pilot—a full year of APTT implementation during the 2023/24 school year in the pilot schools. With the initial APTT meetings under their belt, teachers met with the REL Northeast & Islands coaches in mid-September to plan for the first cycle of APTT meetings to be held in October. They discussed and agreed upon improvement goals, including refining meeting facilitation strategies to further incorporate parent voices and foster a richer information exchange.

In October, REL Northeast & Islands coaches traveled to Puerto Rico to participate in the next round of APTT meetings. Teachers were well-prepared to welcome families, sharing PowerPoint presentations, graphs representing beginning of the year student data, practice activities, and additional resources. It was evident that relationships among parents and teachers were growing stronger and deep discussions about student learning were becoming the standard in these classrooms. Principals at two of the schools were on hand to welcome families and to remind them why their partnership with teachers was critical to their students' success. After the meeting adjourned, the REL Northeast & Islands coaches met with the teachers and principals at each school to debrief and celebrate.

We are enormously grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with PRDE to support the regional data coaches, principals, and the diligent, hardworking teachers who are so invested in working with parents as partners to help students succeed and reach their potential. Our REL Northeast & Islands team is eager to participate in two more APTT support cycles with families in 2024.

Learn More

To learn more about the APTT Model and engaging families, visit our two newly published fact sheets:

To learn more about REL Northeast & Islands' work in Puerto Rico, visit our Puerto Rico page or check out these additional resources:


Maria Paredes

Maria Paredes

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