Real examples from real teachers and administrators and featuring comments by Dr. Grady E. Smith.
Student data has become increasingly important because it allows teachers and administrators to efficiently gage student comprehension levels and target areas in need of improvement. Many schools across the country are using student data to create more personalized learning plans, measure student growth and gage teacher effectiveness.
Collecting Student Data
The first step to effectively using data in the classroom is to collect the right information in the right way. Teachers can be collecting informative data everyday in a variety of ways. It’s important that teachers use proper channels to collect data that will have actionable value.
“Our teachers use diagnostic tests, focus quizzes, benchmark tests to collect data on their students,” Dr. Grady E. Smith, an educator and administrator from Shreveport, LA.
Other schools, like Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) public schools, also incorporate behavioral and demographical factors into their database. “In addition to reviewing Common Core Math and English, principals also review data related to attendance, behavior like suspension or expulsion, demographics, reading levels and so on,” says Marie Morelock, ICEF Public School’s Chief Academic Officer. “It is all part of our dashboard of information that we use to plan instruction, intervention and check the status of comprehension levels.”
Using Student Data to Improve Instruction
Once student learning data has been collected properly, it’s time to put it to use. A popular use of student data is to inform instruction for a more personalized learning experience based on a student’s learning style or comprehension level.
“My school uses learning data to improve instruction by assessing students in the fall, winter, and spring,” says Rodney Jordan, a 6th grade math teacher in Manassas, VA and author of the new book,From the Heart of a Teacher. “This year, we implemented a 40-minute block for reading intervention as part of Race To Intervention (RTI). Based on fall test scores, all students were placed in either Tier 1, 2 or 3, with one being the highest.”
This is a great example of a school using data to determine the best teaching approach for different groups of students at different levels.
Data can also offer invaluable insight into a student’s learning style. Teachers can identify which activities and tests support a certain learning style and collect data on how each student performed on visual, logical, aural, verbal activities etc. As a result, a teacher can make an informed decision to adjust his or her teaching methods based on student learning data.
“I use assessment results and anecdotal notes to make sure I’m meeting each child’s individual needs. The benefits of collecting and utilizing data on students and teachers is that administrators and teachers have a better idea of who they are working with and are able to address concerns or praise individuals based on growth or reaching goals,” says Jordan.
Another great way to utilize student learning data is for growth measurement. Student knowledge and comprehension should be collected at the beginning and end of each unit so that teacher can gage how much each student learned. Furthermore, if the data suggests that most students did not reach the level of comprehension required, teachers can dig into the data to find out why and take different approach to the lesson.
“If the objectives are not mastered via data analysis the teachers are expected to reteach that objective,’ says Dr. Smith. “The diagnostic and benchmark tests are used for pre and post-tests so that data can reflect growth thought the units.”
Supporting Teachers’ Data Efforts
Data collection and analysis may be intimidating to some teachers. It can be difficult for teachers to create the kind of assessments needed to collect meaningful student learning data. It’s important that teachers get the training and support they need to create tests and activities for data collection.
ICEF public schools offer a great example of how schools can support their teachers with data collection. ICEF public schools host multiple data days during the year where they take the information and analyze it by grade levels in teams. Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net They review what they do well, share best practices(by school, by grade level and by subject), plan instruction accordingly and organize professional learning. Between data days, they have interim assessments that focus on the standards taught during a specific time period.
“Our senior directors and principals have check-ins on a regular basis. They review the data and determine how to address the findings on the school site – it is a constant conversation,” says Morelock.
Using student learning data to inform instruction is a great way to hold both students and teachers accountable for successful learning. Quantitative and qualitative student data offers an efficient, objective way to create more personalized learning experiences, create more effective lesson plans and offer students the best chance to succeed.
The final component of utilizing data the right way in schools is to have a tool that helps you collect, organize and analyze the student and teacher data for maximum efficiency. Our TeacherMatch360 system lets you collect data on teachers from the moment they apply to your job postings. Our teacher knowledge assessment shows teachers their strengths and areas for improvement so that they are continually growing with professional development and their progress leads to an increase in student growth.