Using Data Wisely

Using Data Wisely

 

Teresa Marchant

 

As educators, we are constantly being told that schools need to make “data-based decisions”. When I hear these words my mind immediately flashes back to Grad School, sitting in my statistics class. This is where I learned about this concept and that the information we gather from assessments allows us to generate subsets of numbers. Generally, school administrators look for the overall school performance, class information, and individual students’ scores to help determine the implementation of new programs, allocate resources, and staffing.

 

As learning standards are revised on a state and local level, it becomes necessary to review the current resources available. Classes or grade levels may “pilot” a new program to see if it improves student learning. Recently, my district adopted new ELA materials. After a review was performed by the Curriculum Director and received approval from the administration, the School Leadership Team (made up of teachers from each grade level) were given the responsibility to help with the implementation of this program. Each grade level decided how to use the materials and then reported back to the team at the next monthly meeting. This process helped demonstrate the fidelity of this program. It will be interesting to see the results from the implementation in our end-of-year testing.

 

Mid-Year testing is also another data collection point to help implement interventions for individual students. At this point, we identified students who needed additional support in reading and math. This allowed us to target instruction for students in certain areas such as fluency, comprehension, or phonemic awareness in reading groups. For math, we added an additional staff member, a math coach, to help with core instruction, vet resources, and provide support for struggling students. In addition, our Gifted and Talented staff were also able to use the data to determine if additional students could qualify for the “AP” program.

 

Understanding that each student is unique and has various skills to offer to their classroom community, allows us to individual instruction and meet their needs. As we plan instruction, teachers will need to build relationships to meet the diverse learning needs of our students. This is also a key piece of data that isn’t generated with standardized tests.

 

End-of-year testing will be here before we know it. The data that we gather from it will help identify learning gaps for students. These gaps may have occurred due to Covid, remote learning, or something else. Regardless of the causes, it is vital that we fill these gaps. By providing summer school, tutoring opportunities, or even reteaching concepts will ensure student success. Through the use of covid relief monies, our district has implemented several after-school programs to foster learning opportunities in addition to tutoring.

 

Students will continue to need support when those dollars run out, but building a culture that uses the data wisely will help staff to better meet the needs of the district, classes, and students. As we continue to identify students that are struggling, proficient, and high achieving, we must realize that our students are more than a test score.

 

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