(This blog post is an assignment completed for the “Future Principal’s Institute within my district.)
How can teachers capitalize on data about student learning that are generated in their classrooms every day? How can this information best be collected and used to increase student learning? Making data part of instructional planning can be challenging, especially if teachers are not used to thinking about assessment and data as a regular part of the process.
Effective feedback is a great way for teachers to use collected data in order to improve student learning.
Results from almost any assessment can be of great benefit to students, provided they are used to make instructional adjustments. And — the shorter the amount of time between assessment and adjustment — the more powerful its effect on learning. Just like a diet plan that sits on your desk…until you actually pick it up and DO something with it, it isn’t going to affect much!
Here are Tina Garrett’s, Elementary Science Coordinator’s thoughts on how best to utilize data from a benchmark or CBA.
I asked her three questions, including one on how to handle a teacher who looks at her report and thinks that she did just fine. Drawing in Carol Dweck‘s research, she gave several suggestions for teachers on how to move forward, intentionally, with data (both formative & summative) as their guide.
In the Dec./Jan. issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership, Jennifer Morrison shares one reason why data is so important to the classroom teacher, which ties in to Ms. Garrett’s thoughts.
Prodding teachers to collect meaningful data on their own ensures that they will begin to ask questions, as I found out when I put together a sample data notebook. In the process of collecting, analyzing, and reflecting on information about my classes, I stepped outside my assumptions and understood students more clearly. I discovered a new way of thinking about my practice, but better still, the process caused me to ask such questions as, Are my students demonstrating growth in learning? or What do I need to change to accelerate growth? To satisfy these wonderings, I had to design assessments that would gather the information I needed and analyze the results, sometimes rethinking my methods as a consequence.
At a previous campus we made looking at and restructuring instruction a priority by having monthly “Monday meetings”. The grade level met with the principal, the counselor, and myself. We briefly touched on EVERY student, from those that were performing at standard to those who struggled on different assessments. The teachers were responsible for pulling data from classroom assessments and the computer lab manager pulled from all of our computer based assessments. By collectively looking and discussing, we were able to brain storm about each learner as well as come up with an action plan on any who we felt needed additional assistance. If this meeting only happened twice a year, the data would have been useless.
Here is a flyer, Making Numbers Meaningful, that we provided early on to introduce the concept of having these monthly data PLC’s or “Monday meetings”. Some grade levels even brought snacks! They all, however, brought a positive attitude and a motivated mentality, which made all the difference.