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.