Data, Data, Data Leading to High Achievement

     Education and learning is the result of hours of planning and hard work on the part of teachers and students.  Behind the scenes in every public school that cares about student learning, there are individual and teams of teachers that use data to make good instructional decisions.


       In years past, we only had data from chapter tests.  But since the chapter was completed and the instruction has already moved on to the next topic, this data was already "old news".  It couldn't be used to help us to make good instruction decision for right now.  Today teachers understand the power of using data to guide their decisions.  When the public hears about school data, they often think about tests results--probably because that is the most common form of data that is published in the news.  But teachers use all sorts of data that doesn't include test data.

Data-Driven Decision Making

       Public school teachers measure student progress in many ways in today's classrooms.  Teachers use rubrics to assess projects or some assignments.  Teachers use games.  Teachers use exit tickets.  Questions, discourse, group work, individual work, electronic responses, etc.  Teachers have multiple sources of student data.  This data is used to help teachers to decide:
  1. Who gets it.
  2. Who sort of gets it.
  3. Who doesn't get it.
These determinations are used to help teachers to prepare for the next lesson.  Chapter tests and large, state-wide standardized tests are a "final" product of the educational process.  They don't help us in our day-to-day planning.  It is the daily collection of data from formative assessments that inform instructional decision.  It is also this data (or the information from this data) that help students to gain a sense of how well they are understanding the content.

       Indeed, learning is a process.  It takes time and practice and effort.  It requires students and teachers to ask a lot of questions and often to make mistakes along the way.  It requires thinking and reasoning based on what we've done so far and what we still need to do.  The data that comes from these efforts help all of us to measure progress toward the goal of learning.  Most of this data analyzing is invisible to the public.  It is the technical work of teaching that is too "un-interesting" to print in the newspapers and yet vital to the practice of teaching.

       Data drives decisions for students and schools.  Data is the fuel that keeps our classrooms running in the right direction.


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