Informed decision making is a vital part of Education. Collecting, Understanding and taking action on student data is something teachers need to do continuously to improve learning and teaching experience. It is imperative in making informed decisions based on student data to make sure the student progresses. (ACER)
3 Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching
FROM THE CLASSROOM
Formative Assessments: Low-stake assessments are the most important and useful student data. Exit slips, brief quizzes, and thumbs up/thumbs down are a few ways to gather information on where students are and where they need to go next.
Observations: The positives of having a constructivist, student-directed classroom? The students are comfortable with you walking around and sitting with them in their groups. This helps create a feeling of autonomy, which allows you as a teacher to be a fly on the wall, gathering data on individual students: How well are they making sense of the content? Interacting with others? Are they struggling with a learning activity? Such data from observations can lead to pacing adjustments for the whole class or scaffold for those students who are still struggling.
Projects, Essays, and Exams: Summative assessments, such as literary analysis essays or end-of-unit science exams, allow teachers to measure the growth of individuals and whole-group learning.
FROM CUMULATIVE FILES
Much information is found in student files. Here is an example of useful data collection from Rebecca Alber, Instructor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education;
“A girl who often missed class was homeless, living in the family car. Several students who had been identified as gifted were inaccurately placed in my general education English class. A boy struggling to fit in had been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia.
More than a dozen students who never wore eyeglasses in class (or contacts—I checked) had prescriptions.
From a child’s cumulative files, you can sometimes see a dramatic grade change at a specific point during their school journey. Perhaps prior to eighth grade, the child had been an A student and then started earning Ds and Fs. You can express concern about this, sharing the data with them. The students may then share a reason with you: their parents divorced, or they moved to a new city/community. One student told me that she just gave up on school when her dad went to prison.” (Edutopia)
There is then an opportunity to be empathetic, acknowledge their hardship, and set some goals together for them to improve academically
FROM STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES
Taking a look at previous standardized test scores of your current students is beneficial in several ways. Just as one grade does not determine all that a student is or isn’t, neither does one test score. Using standardized testing results along with other data is key when making instructional decisions. Here are some suggestions for using standardized test data:
Share Testing Results With Students Individually: After doing this, set some obtainable, realistic goals for each of them to work toward before the next test.
Use the Data to Decide Student Grouping and Differentiation: Standardized test data reveals how your students performed: advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic. This could help inform how you choose student groups, create seating charts, and differentiate for individuals.
Get Curious About Contradictions and Take Action: How about that ace student who didn’t do so well on the standardized test? Possibly a nervous test-taker? (Edutopia) Or it could simply be low motivation since many students never hear about their standardized test results from previous years? Also, there is much information to be gained from having individual conversations with students who have these contradictions between their standardized test scores and their classroom grades and performance.
There are, however, several challenges in collecting, understanding and acting on data. Leaders and teachers can face technological barriers in using information management systems or difficulties in identifying issues and solutions as a result of limited data literacy. Organisational structures can lead to challenges in collecting and discussing data and planning across subject areas.
Learn how to analyse student data effectively to create better outcomes for student wellbeing from Shane Kamsner, Head of Wellbeing, Carey Baptist Grammar School at the Data Driven Evidence Based Teaching in Schools, 28th & 29th May 2019, Melbourne.