Teachers have an enormous amount of data to sort through. A seriously enormous amount of data. With testing season beginning for many, teachers are about to get even more data on their students. Here are some examples of data teachers work with on any given day
- Test and quiz results – From state and local standardized tests, unit tests, benchmarks, common assessments, class assessments
- Warm-ups and exit tickets – Often collected on a daily basis
- Checklists – Data collected by teachers to monitor student mastery of letters, sounds, sight words and other skills
- Anecdotal data – Notes on student progress, logs documenting parent communication
- Discipline records – From student behavior charts, copies of office referrals written
…and this was generated after only a few minutes of brainstorming!
Keeping this amount of data organized and synthesizing it into something useful within a timeframe which would have the greatest impact on student achievement.
Amazingly, little research exists on the concept of teacher management of student data. However, there are lots of blogs out there which discuss solutions for managing student data. Once again, amazingly, the majority of those blogs don’t discuss leveraging technology to manage student data. A few things to keep in mind if you want to be a master of your class data.
Know what data you are responsible for collecting
In most cases the big data like state and district assessments will be gathered and sorted by members of your administrative team. Hopefully your administrator will have discussions with you about your data throughout the school year and provide guidance on what you are looking at. While this is important data to understand, as it can show where your students begin, where they may at mid-year, and how they end
The key to leveraging student data to improve academic achievement is to make sure you are aware of the data you collect, your data collection is purposeful, and you use the data in a way which has a positive impact on student achievement.
Be Intentional With Your Data Collection
The process of collecting data should be meaningful. For example: Don’t give an exit ticket just to give an exit ticket. That little bit of data can tell you a whole bunch about a student’s progress, but only if you have the time to go through it. Furthermore, if you aren’t adjusting your teaching based on what you learn from that exit ticket, you are wasting your time for having just gone through them all, and the student’s time to complete it.
Be Transparent With Your Data
It can sometimes be scary when sitting in a PLC meeting reviewing results of the last assessment your team gave and you notice your scores are lower than that of your colleagues. You have two options: lie or learn. You can sit there and lie about how your students did, or learn from the scores. What techniques did your colleagues use that you didn’t? What suggestions can you get for grouping your students for remediation? What if you all did poorly, and had to evaluate the whole lesson? You may sometimes feel as frightened to fail as your students do. Don’t be. Share your results, make adjustments to your instruction, and move on.
Data isn’t going away anytime soon. If you make data analysis part of your regular routine, you will get better at it; and that will translate into your instruction.