Creating Motivated and Confident Learners by Celebrating Success

Do you remember when you were at school and you would receive a reward for doing great work? We probably all remember a time when this happened to us and we had a sense of bursting pride from it. This also helped with our confidence, instilled more of a love of learning, and may even have led to what we do as a job now.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at why we should be celebrating success in the classroom, as well as strategies for doing so, without taking away from that all-important teacher time.

Why We Should Celebrate Success…

To Help Students See That Hard Work Leads to Growth

There needs to be a move away from the thinking that achievement can be based on either ability, others around us or plain good luck. Effort is significant too. Although this is already widely understood, we should be rewarding this over anything to motivate our students. Focusing on this as a tool that underpins achievement will help with students seeing the value of working hard and will help them with putting more effort into their work, which in turn, will improve their outcomes and growth.

To Instil a Love of Learning

You can help your students grow in confidence in so many areas by celebrating their accomplishments. Besides, what’s better to build confidence than being told you’re doing well?

To Motivate Learners with Their Studies

Praise is a major driver in motivating students to work hard and do well. But we need to make sure we’re giving praise that is helpful. We can do this by making sure it’s sincere and genuine, specific and descriptive, to ensure students know where they have done well, but also realistic, so it focuses on specific behaviors.

How We Should Celebrate Success…

Celebrating success must be done well for students to really benefit from its impact. Consider implementing the following into your praise:

  • Focus on the hard work and effort rather than just the achievement when praising students.
  • Make sure you clearly point out who is being celebrated and the reason why.
  • Give more background information about performance.
  • Make sure praise is transparent and varied.

Strategies for Celebrating Success

It’s true that there are many schools with their own Behaviour Policy in place that details rewards or what to do when there’s negative behaviour. However, it may be worth reviewing some of this policy to help with motivation and creating confident learners.

Create Postcards for Parents/Carers

This is a personal reward, but you could send home postcards to say “well done” for something – this will help engagement and the home school link. You can make these yourself and print them out. Sometimes, students won’t come home and shout about their successes, so these are a great idea for you to do something to show great work.

Share Any Successes on Social Media

Does your class or school have a social media page? We know these are very popular! You could post photos or messages of your students’ work to show parents and celebrate success; this is a great way of improving parental engagement and quickly sharing fantastic work with a wider audience too.

Set Up a Special Treat or Lunch

When your whole class has done fantastic work, as a special reward, at lunch, you could give your students passes, or Golden Tickets, to a separate table and maybe even have teachers serve them ! This will make them feel very special and set them apart from their peers – plus, other students will see which will inspire them to want to try and aim for that treat too!

Don’t forget that on Exact Path, you can also set up Challenges which mean you can put a ‘special lunch’ as a reward for skills completed or time spent on learning paths. Our report from Century Analytics shows that students who complete just eight lessons on Exact Path demonstrate significant growth, so this is a great way to improve outcomes.

Celebrating success is a great idea for so many reasons – success looks different for every student, so taking time to highlight this can help with motivation, confidence and class morale. So how do you celebrate success in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Use Data Visualization

What misconceptions do you come across in your class? Have you spotted learning gaps? These are the challenges we want to try and help overcome with EducationCity’s Assessment Report.

Before we explore the solutions to any misconceptions you may have come across, take a sneak preview into the How to Use Data Visualization pack. This includes how they report on EducationCity can help you identify learning gaps, and where misconceptions have occurred. Click the button below to download the pack.

Why do misconceptions occur?

A misconception is a misunderstanding of a view or opinion that is perceived inaccurately. Sometimes students may find it hard to grasp ideas or concepts covered in class.

They may perform best in different areas of their learning, for example, some students may be stronger in certain subjects than others or perform better in assessments. Some steps can be put in place to support students in fully understanding the underlying concepts, enabling you to measure their success and growth.

How can misconceptions be addressed?

Instructional support (scaffolding) can be used to help students master a new task or keep up with more advanced learners. Examples of scaffolding strategies using technological aids and being part of learning groups that pool students’ knowledge to support one another.

Performance feedback either from peers or a teacher ensures students who are mastering new academic skills have frequent opportunities to try these skills out with immediate feedback and encouragement. Effective guidance will only help students grow in their abilities!

Make the lesson relatable with students ‘Talk-Through’ Activities. When students appear to have successfully learned a skill, set up activities for them to complete and ask the students to ‘talk’ through the activity, e.g., each step that they are taking, describe their problem-solving strategies aloud, describe any problems they may come across and how they will solve them. This will not only make students feel more confident but help to address any gaps in learning where intervention may be needed.

So, now we’ve discovered how misconceptions can be resolved, how can EducationCity’s Assessment Report help?

Once you know what areas within the topic have been misunderstood, you can then start to personalize your lessons to help your students’ understanding.

Whilst it’s important you manage students’ progress, it’s also beneficial for students to track their learning progress too. Following an assessment, a Revision Journal is automatically generated if the student scores less than 100%. The revision contains Activities and Learn Screens to offer additional support. This means that whilst a student is completing their work, they can keep track of their scores as the content is automatically marked. This takes the time you would spend for marking out of your hands!

In the example below from an Assessment Report, you can see that Alanna answered a question incorrectly, where she had to complete the number sentence. Her peers, Alex and Amelia, got this correct, so this is a good opportunity for group work to help Alanna fill this learning gap.

Aaron didn’t attempt that same question, nor a few of the others that fall under the number sequences objective, so it could be he struggled with this area of the assessment. You could personalize learning and address these areas of weakness by creating a MyCity with the content on number sequences and patterns for some revision and practice.

Whether you have students struggling in your class who need that additional bit of support or reinforcement on a topic, there are several ways misconceptions can be addressed using EducationCity.

If you’d like to explore the Assessment Report for yourself, simply sign in. Alternatively, if your school doesn’t have EducationCity, get in touch with our team to set you up with some free access.

 

Top Five Test Preparation Tips

Preparing for tests isn’t easy for students or teachers! That is why we have put together some useful tips that will help you to support your students as they prepare for their high-stakes tests.

1. Benchmark your students

Even before you start preparing students for their assessments, it’s very important to know what their strengths are, and where they have needs. A benchmark assessment can help you identify where students are individually, and comparatively against their peers. You can then use this information to help inform your teaching and the direction it needs to take.

2. Leverage your data

If you have data from your students, whether from previous exams or homework, use it! This data can be your best tool to differentiate teaching and help you prepare your students for their tests. Make use of formative assessment strategies too, to identify concepts and skills your students are struggling with and where individualized attention is needed. Online tools – like Edmentum Sensei – can be a great way to obtain actionable data.

3. Review and practice

Create a revision plan to review content. You may have to give a diagnostic quiz to identify where there is a lack of understanding. Once you determine where the challenge exists, review the material and possibly introduce other resources. Practice will not be constructive unless the students understand the content.

Simulated practice tests can ensure that your students are making the desired amount of progress before a high-stakes exam. All practice experiences should emulate the test in the style of questioning, as well as presentation. This will help them familiarize themselves with the format and become comfortable with it, so that there are no nasty surprises when the test arrives. If they will be taking the test online, then practice should be digital so that students develop the skills they will need for the exam.

Teach your students the importance of previewing a test section before starting to answer questions. It can help them pace themselves (so that they don’t run out of time and feel rushed), and it gives the brain the opportunity to start retrieving information in the background while answering other questions.

4. Prepare for next-generation assessments

Not only are next-generation assessments more rigorous, but they may be presented in a format that students are unfamiliar with. Gone are the days when pure content knowledge and a pencil were all that students would need to succeed on a test.

Below are a few things your students will need to have to be successful:

• Device familiarity
• Understanding of how to navigate the test
• Exposure to Technology-Enhanced Item types
• Basic keyboarding skills

Make sure that your students are given enough preparation and time with these items to give them the best chance of success.

5. Create a culture of positivity before the test

As Henry Ford is credited for saying, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.” Although some anxiety can be helpful, making students feel the urgency to prepare, it can quickly become a negative force and undermine all the positive preparation that has been done. So, try to keep the atmosphere relaxed and fun while still stressing the importance of the test.

Test taking is a skill, and knowing how to take a test correctly can improve scores dramatically. Follow these five steps, however, and you can be secure in the knowledge that you’ve prepared your students as best you can.

Using Formative Assessment Data to Guide Learning

High-quality educators take the saying ‘be quick on your feet’ to an entirely new level almost each and every day within their classrooms. Educators not only work to keep their students engaged and excited about learning, but they also work to create new and data-driven learning opportunities for their often-diverse set of learners. Developing lessons that are meaningful, relevant and reflective of each student’s skills and abilities can seem like an overwhelming task at times, however working to incorporate the use of students’ formative assessment data can help take that process to whole new levels.

Let’s start to examine how to use formative assessment data within the classroom to drive instruction by first outlining exactly what formative assessment within a classroom consists of. Formative assessment can take many forms, but it is primarily described as ‘assessment that occurs within and between (daily instruction) lessons.’ Some teachers refer to it as the ‘micro-assessments’ that a teacher will administer throughout the course of a lesson or instructional day. These assessments can include something as small as a ‘thumbs-up/thumbs-down’ teacher call out after teaching a lesson to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with what has been taught, all the way to a more formal paper and pencil quiz. Either way, educators use this type of assessment to determine if the lesson/skill that was taught has been internalized by the students. Education research tells us that ‘high-quality formative assessment is perhaps one of the most effective educational practices when it comes to improving academic achievement.’

While there are no shortage of great formative assessment techniques that educators can use to help determine the effectiveness of their teaching, the real challenge for many educators becomes taking that student feedback or data and then transforming it into new, more reflective learning experiences for students. I have gone ahead and listed a few techniques that can be used to help support not only the process of gathering formative assessment data from students, but also the process of interpreting it.

Create a ‘culture’ of formative assessment within your classroom

Working to help create a culture within a classroom that embraces the consistent use of formative assessment is essential to ensuring engaged learners. Having students who are ready and willing to give you feedback that is relevant and accurate about their learning is the very first step to gathering meaningful feedback that can be used to drive instructional decisions. This process really begins by helping your learners understand ‘why’ you are asking for their feedback and then detailing to them the processes that you are going to employ to turn that feedback into new and more tailored instructional experiences. Creating ‘self-directed’ learners within a classroom is the goal of every educator and helping students understand where their individual strengths and weaknesses may lie can help them to propel forward in their learning.

Formative assessment data is not just numbers

Assessing student learning does not always require an educator to hand out a large assessment to his/her students. Often, determining which skills/concepts your students have mastered can be done in quick, more informal ways. Some examples of quality formative assessment techniques include, ‘thumbs-up/thumbs-down,’ mini whiteboards, ‘hand thermometers,’ chalkboard ‘Splashes’,’ ‘random selection assessments (popsicle sticks)’ and ‘cold-calling.’ All of these techniques are quick ways for an educator to not only determine which students are grasping certain concepts, but which students may need additional support or instruction moving forward. These brief, informal checks can be administered mid-instruction and can serve as a lever for a teacher to either pivot back to re-teach certain lessons or as a way to determine whether or not to move onto teaching another topic.

Use formative assessment data to help plan for change

High-quality educators use student data to help determine which skills in a classroom need to be taught and when. Adjusting a classroom’s scope and sequence, or the order and timing with which skills are introduced to students, is one of the most critical aspects of assessing students using formative assessment. The data that students provide a teacher with, through the formative assessment process, is critical in making decisions about what skills will be focused on and for how long. As an example, a teacher may introduce and provide direct instruction on a topic such as ‘fractions’ for the class and may have planned to focus on that lesson for roughly three instructional days to ensure that students have grasped the topic. However, after administering a series of regular and consistent formative assessment techniques, including ‘cold calling’ and ‘classroom quizzes’, the teacher may determine that the set of students have a solid grasp of the concept after only two days of instruction. This information frees up the teacher then to shift the ‘extra’ day of instruction to another topic that the students do not yet have mastery of. Adjusting in this way allows the educator to help maximize the time that he/she has with their students and ensure that the students are truly learning the concepts that they are being presented with.

Integrating formative assessment techniques into classroom instruction is one of the most beneficial things that a teacher can do to meet the varied needs of his/her learners. The techniques listed above can create transformative changes within a classroom who is working to meet the diverse needs of their learners. The information gathered from the formative assessment process helps to not only shed light on students’ successes and possible gaps, but also helps to ensure that a teacher is teaching the right concepts at the right time.

Black, P. and D. William. “Assessment and Classroom Learning.” Assessment in Education, 5:1, March 1998, p.12.

Formatively Assess Your Class in These Unique Ways

We often hear about the importance of implementing formative assessment in the classroom. It’s a great way to make sure that students aren’t just repeating information mechanically and by rote to get good marks but that they are actually actively comprehending the information they are learning.

Why use formative assessment?

Using formative assessment allows teachers to receive feedback from their class and quickly modify lesson plans and teaching methods in response to the data they collect. It is the foundation of a feedback loop that makes learning easier and more effective, and it is a key component in improved learning and student achievement.

So, how can you put these strategies into action? Nearly every teacher is familiar with hand signals, exit tickets, and warm-up activities, but there are many other creative activities you can use to formatively assess your students during daily lessons. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Write a Journal

Not only is journaling regularly a great way to get students to practice their writing skills, but it’s also perfect for getting more personal insights into how students feel about a particular lesson or activity. Journal writing prompts should always be somehow related to a student’s understanding of the day’s lesson or a concept or idea covered in the lesson. Collect journals at the end of class and promptly read the responses in order to make adjustments to the following day’s lesson.

Make the Late News

Get a quick snapshot of your students’ understanding and have some fun by asking them to come up with a good newspaper headline for a pretend news story written about the day’s lesson. For example, if you were teaching a unit on reptiles, you might suggest something like “Cold-Blooded Lizard Lies Eight Hours in the Sun, Doesn’t Break a Sweat” or “Camouflaged Chameleon Escapes Predator Yet Again.” You could even let your students draw a front-page picture to go along with their headline or make up a complete news story with more detailed information from the lesson. Based on the complexity of their headline, you’ll be able to see how complete their comprehension of the lesson was.

Have a Think Tank!

It sounds simple enough, but the results of a good idea-generation session can lead to an outstanding lesson; the trick is to get everyone to participate actively and willingly. Start by asking your class to tell you everything they know about a subject related to the lesson you are about to teach. For example, if you are about to cover a chapter on the water cycle, ask them to tell you everything they can think of about water. While you may have to weed through some silly and obvious answers, you will also be able to get a clear idea of what concepts your students have a good grasp of, as well as those they are still having trouble with, in order to adapt your lesson accordingly. Be sure to use open-ended questions while storming ideas so that you can keep the conversation flowing.

Pretend Play

Some impromptu theater can be a great way to understand how your students took in the day’s lesson. Divide your students into groups and have them create scripts to perform based on a reading section from the lesson. For an added twist, you can ask one group of students to write the script and a different group to act it out without any communication between the groups beforehand. Afterwards, have the students who performed the script explain the way they thought it was summarizing the lesson, and then compare that to the original group’s intended meaning. Was any information lost, or was extra information included? Was anything interpreted differently by the two groups? Open up the class to a productive discussion – and gain insight into how your teaching methods are working.

Traffic Light System

Introducing a traffic light system into your classroom is also ideal for assessing what has been understood and what hasn’t been. Place colored cups on the table in front of a student, or even pre-prepared interlinking green, amber and red cards, and ask them topic-related questions. As long as the student understands what they are doing, and getting everything correct, they stay at green. If they are struggling, or need support, they can switch to amber, and if they don’t understand at all, red. This enables you to immediately assess your each individual’s understanding of the topic. Why not get the children to color-code their work too, so that you have a reference as to who needs more support in the following lesson?

Let the Students Become the Teacher

Students’ test scores should never come as a surprise. By letting your students take an active role in helping you create testing material before they are assessed, you can get a better idea of how they will actually perform. One of the goals of formative assessment is for students to become more responsible for their own education. They have to want to learn, make progress, and understand the material in order for this method to work. By having students make up test questions, you are not only helping your class to look at their lessons in a different way, but you are also getting a window into how they are interpreting the information.

As you work to implement formative assessment in your classroom, it’s important to remember that the strategy should be ongoing. That is to say that these assessments should take place regularly throughout the school year. However, it is also essential to note that results should reflect honest feedback from your students. Students shouldn’t feel undue pressure to “ace” their formative assessments. Instead, make sure that they understand that the purpose of these assignments is to improve instruction. You are trying to accurately assess how your students are understanding material, not handing out grades.

Want to learn how Edmentum International can help you seamlessly incorporate formative assessment in your classroom to support data-driven instruction? Talk to our team and learn about how our proven, online practice and assessment solutions can help you turn data into classroom action. They’d be happy to help, so email them at international@edmentum.com or call them on +44 (0)1572 492576.

Data-Driven Decision Making: Four Considerations

So you’ve put together an assessment, administered it to all your students, marked and graded each one, and have now gathered a list of all the students’ results by individual skill. Now what? How should you effectively use that data to guide your instruction? Looking at data, analyzing it and implementing tailored solutions can seem lengthy and time-consuming but it is an essential part of the process when making decisions about individualizing your instruction. To help guide you through key considerations when making data-driven decisions, we’ve developed an infographic below.

 

Data-driven decision making infographic

Data-Driven Decision Making: Organizational Changes

Data-driven decisions are also best supported by infrastructure and policies to support them. So there may be some organizational changes you’ll want to consider. We’ve outlined some here.

1. How data is managed

You’ll want to create a data system or improve your current one to effectively collect, transfer and manipulate information. Adjusting data access and management practices to different people in the school can help to ensure timely delivery and this can improve the likelihood of data being used.

2. Understanding of findings

You don’t need to be a super genius with spreadsheets at all, but the ability of staff to create plans for analyzing scores and understanding the results may require some support. Training may be needed on best data practices, data analysis and accessibility or data management. Overall, you should make sure that data can be accessed easily by the people that need to access it, which can involve making sure data is presented in a user-friendly format and in an accessible place.

3. Create a culture where data use should be evident

To facilitate data use, you’ll want strong leadership and systems of accountability. You could have policies that outline data use requirements or incentives for using data, or even a formal plan for its use. But by encouraging data sharing, you can help to promote a culture where staff should reflect on data together, and support them in doing this by allocating time and resources for analyzing data and using it.

Although many educators now have access to a lot of data at their fingertips, it’s crucial that decision makers know the benefits and limitations of data, the data they should be familiar with to improve their decision making, and how that data can effectively be used for successful decision making.

Adopting a Grading or Marking System Based on Students’ Success

Grading or marking approaches differ vastly in schools and there are many different ideas to approach it. In this blog, we’re going to look at how you can apply a student-centered grading or marking strategy in your classroom. Check out our four top tips!

1. Grades/scores should reflect learning

If students are misbehaving or being disrespectful, it can be tempting to tell them that they will lose points. However, and you may already advocate this, when scores reflect behavior, they don’t necessarily reflect a student’s learning. Although negative behavior should carry consequences, it’s important to make sure that those consequences don’t alter a student’s grades.

2. Concentrate on the performance of summative assessments

Although formative assessments such as quizzes or homework assignments are important, and they give students the opportunity to practice what they’re learning, it should be pointed out that they are small-scale measures of understanding and should be weighted significantly less than higher-stakes summative assessments. Summative assessments are designed to be given to students after they have achieved mastery to demonstrate learning and formative assessments gauge understanding. The majority of a student’s grade is based on summative assessments so it will more accurately reflect their learning at the end of the unit, rather than formative assessment scores in the meantime.

3. Don’t be too hard on late work

Sometimes it’s problematic to ask a student to move onto a new concept when they struggled to master a previous skill. All students work at their own pace and sometimes, student understanding needs to take priority over set schedules.

If a student does have a valid reason for an extension on a task, they are taking responsibility over their learning and building self-advocacy skills. So it can be fair to say that when it’s right, a less strict approach to deadlines can benefit your students’ progress.

4. Allow retakes for summative assessments

Although a dividing issue, it may be worth giving your students the opportunity to retake summative assessments. You may want to give a student a different summative assessment for them to retake the same concepts. However, it may be worth telling your students that the second score then stands and by accepting their retake score, this can serve as motivation to thoroughly prepare and master the concepts they need to if needed from the new performance.

Not just judgement and punishment, grading and marking are wholly about progress. By adopting this kind of approach, you can revolutionize your classroom for both your teaching and students’ learning.

7 Tips to Improve Test Scores

Whether you have a test day coming up or not, as any test day draws nearer, you may be thinking about ways you can prepare students, give them extra help and make sure they are optimizing their chances of success. We’ve put together seven top tips to help you give every student the best chance of succeeding and improving their scores on tests which you can adopt.

Test your students

It may not be right just now but make sure there aren’t any topics where more practice could be done by putting out a benchmark assessment. Although you may have done a lot of benchmarking so far, things can change quickly throughout the year so it’s a good idea to do this regularly, and doing it regularly will get your students used to testing too.

Evaluate your data

Take a look at data and make sure there isn’t something missing from your students’ knowledge throughout the year. It may be worth discussing data with your students to see where they are at and where they may need more practice so they can progress for the test.

Adopt a positive culture

Encourage and support students in setting goals and then make sure they never act as though they can’t reach those goals. Show your students that they should celebrate all their successes and model that culture for other students too. This can help with alleviating any anxiety before tests and during the school year.

As well as this, whenever possible, make any test practice a game, and make sure you give rewards so students are motivated and striving forward.

Encourage parental help

Keep parents informed of what’s going on with their child and their preparations for any tests or progress throughout the year. This means parents can get involved and help their children with any practice they are doing.

Just practice

So it’s obvious but practice really does make perfect. By putting together a review plan when it is appropriate, which includes different learning modalities and gives many chances for practicing content as well as the testing format, you can help students retain information they need to know and gain more understanding of concepts. Your students should be better prepared when testing day arrives by doing this too.

Bring healthy snacks

It’s important that students are fed and ready for their tests. You could make sure that on testing day, parents give children a snack, such as granola or energy bars, or something healthy their child enjoys, to set them up for their test.

Teach student techniques

It’s not just a hungry stomach that can bring down test scores though – any aching backs or necks can too! Show your students some seated stretching techniques and breathing exercises that they can do during the test and in any practice lessons too.

Our solutions offer great ways to help your students with test preparation and optimizing their scores. Take a look at our full range of solutions on our web page.

Grading and Marking Strategies to Save You Time

If you’re a teacher, that probably means you’re very used to lots of marking!

Grading not only shows students where they are with a piece of work, errors they’ve made and areas that they’ve achieved well in, but it also helps them with grasping a subject area; although, we understand it can often take a lot of time and sometimes feels like you’ve too much marking to do.

Well… we want to help! Take a look at the ideas below to help you reduce your grading and save yourself some time:

1. Schedule grading time

If you teach multiple subjects, grading could become tricky and time-consuming to keep on top of. Completing grading without an organized method can lead to wasted time as your work schedules can easily overlap into other activities you have going on throughout the day.

To help you save time, you could consider scheduling set times throughout your workweek to complete grading, by mapping out assignments, projects, and tests on a calendar.

2. Student self-grading

Another effective method of grading is to encourage students to work together in pairs or small groups to evaluate each other’s work, such as, homework, drafts and quizzes.

This will show that you have confidence in your students to identify areas that need improvement, and will help to build confidence where they can offer their peers advice to help build their knowledge. Once this is complete, you can quickly review the feedback and answer any questions students may have.

3. Set a threshold

Sometimes, you may come across an assignment where a student hasn’t demonstrated what you’re looking for to reach the objectives of the topic. If this occurs, it may be best to speak to the student, make sure they understand the objectives and then ask them to relook at the work they’ve done and offer pointers for improvement.

This helps you, as it saves time having to mark the same piece of work from the beginning, but also the student, as they’ll know the areas they need to focus on to meet the objectives. Don’t forget that communication and collaboration are key to academic success!

Have you explored our suite of solutions? They cater for many teaching and learning needs and can help you save time with grading. Explore them today!

Improving Student Results with Data

Nowadays, many teachers have the ability to see student data, but it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the data that you actually need and can use in the right way to benefit your instruction. We’ve taken a look at five best practices that are designed to help you ensure the data you’re using through certain mediums such as assessments and online solutions are giving you what you need to support you. You probably already use these, or a similar format, but if you don’t, then why not give it a go?

1. Use formative assessments

To ensure you’re making the most of the data you’re gathering, you should continually assess throughout the year. This doesn’t mean you need to hand out tests during class time, but alternatively, you can use formative approaches to assessment within lessons with quick, low-stakes checks for understanding. By doing this, you’ll receive valuable data quickly which will allow you to adjust students’ learning.

2. Align lesson and assessment goals

It may not be ideal to use assessments solely as a quick check to see if students were paying attention on a certain day. To gain meaningful data, you need to ensure that tests you administer fully align with your main lesson purposes. This is important to make sure that students are gaining the knowledge they need. It will also help with determining your best teaching practices and will help with giving you relevant data to inform your teaching instruction for any misunderstanding.

3. Assessment goals should be clear

Students should know how they’re going to be assessed throughout a lesson. In fact, they should be able to tell you how they’ll do in a test before it is given to them.

We can use a golf analogy to help us out here. For instance, each golf course has a ‘par’, or a score a golfer should aim to score. Everyone knows the par of the course. During a round of golf, everyone knows how they’re doing in relation to the par. As they go through the course, they know their score so at the end it is not a surprise. As a teacher, you can take a similar clear stance. Every lesson should have a goal (a par) and students should know where they are in their learning in relation to it at each point of instruction.

4. Utilize data to formulate a plan

Many teachers feel negative when they see their students have misunderstood something or assessment results reveal they have not learnt as much as expected.

Gathering data, however, is ideal for formulating a plan. Formal and informal assessments given should be handed out with the view that learning may need to be reinforced. It’s ideal to view this process of assessment and review as a way to give students a chance for optimal success.

5. Speak to students about their results

Many students know their test scores, especially their high-stakes test results. Be forthright with students, evaluate their data and take the opportunity to ask them how recent assessments have gone. Talk with them about what they found difficult, and discuss any areas they scored highly in. By continuing this throughout the year, these discussions can help you evaluate instruction and connect with your students.

These tips are designed to aid you with optimizing student data to help with improving students’ learning and your instruction. Establishing meaningful connections with your students in relation to data is important but equally, utilizing data in the right way through formative assessment, clear goals, etc., to help them and your teaching is important too.