“High-stakes testing has taken my classroom away from me.”
Can you identify with this quote? You aren’t alone. For many teachers, assessment is a source of dread, stress, and anxiety. Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
We hope you will benefit greatly from this program. When you complete it, you will have a set of techniques at your disposal to:
- Process student data efficiently
- Improve your students’ test scores
- Know whether an instructional practice is working
- Communicate confidently about data
- Eliminate the causes of data anxiety
- Enjoy more free time
Day 1 of Reclaim Your Classroom focuses on building your confidence and knowledge around using data to continuously improve your student outcomes. Let’s start now.
Use data daily
If teaching is an art, then student data analysis is the science that guides it. You wouldn’t microwave food without a timer, drive without a speedometer, or play basketball without keeping score. With that type of data analysis in mind, you’ll see that this course gives you the measurement skills to make you an even better teacher!
Data comes in many forms. It can be anything from attendance records and test scores to parent surveys and observations about student behavior. Really, data is any bit of information that helps us understand what’s happening in our classrooms and why. In this course, we’ll focus on data that is already collected by teachers, schools, and districts so you can hit the ground running.
There’s no question that teachers are bombarded with data these days, and that data is used at the district, state, and federal levels to make all sorts of decisions that deeply affect teachers. Despite your previous knowledge on data analysis, you are in for the treat of a lifetime! During the next three weeks, we at Eduvant will provide you with the best data training course you’ve ever taken… or your money back!
The authors of the book Teacher as Decision Maker point out that teachers make an instructional decision every two minutes—so there are plenty of opportunities to improve the quality of decisions using data. Plus, it turns out that it’s more important that data is used frequently than that it’s flawlessly accurate. Intuitively, this makes plenty of sense; for example, if you know in the middle of the school year that attendance is generally too low, you’re in an infinitely better position to act on that knowledge and improve the situation than a teacher who learns only at the end of the school year that the attendance rate was precisely 88.436%.
We’re going to help you make the most of every five-minute block you spend with data. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to identify when something is going right or wrong in your classroom so that you can improve your craft. Data is a big topic, and we’ll keep focused on the parts that can make the biggest difference for you as a teacher.
Now that we’ve reviewed why data matters, let’s take an inventory of what data is available for us to use.
Exercise: Build a data catalog
Using data effectively means you know what is being collected and where to find it. Fortunately, most schools already collect a wealth of student data. You certainly collect data yourself; a stack of graded papers represents a data set. If you’re lucky, your district or CMO keeps a list of the various data resources you can access. Try to find sources for these types of data:
- Attendance (or absences)
- Discipline (e.g. referrals and suspensions)
- Grades on homework/quizzes/tests
- Standardized test scores
- Transcripts (e.g. quarterly grades)
Note that some of these data might be stored on paper, rather than in a digital format. That’s okay—the goal today is just to locate and track some of the most important data sources at your disposal.
Here’s an example of a simple tabular format you can use to keep track of data sources you find:
|Type of data, e.g. attendance, grades, standardized test scores.||URL or file name. This could be a digital or physical file.||Any additional details you need to be able to describe or use this data source, e.g. what to click to reach relevant sections of an app, or login information.|
- My new mantra: Facts are friends! Tweet
- Teachers make an instructional decision every two minutes. Tweet
- It’s more important to use data frequently than to have accurate data. Tweet
- I just completed my first bite-size lesson on using data in my classroom! Tweet
Today, we took an important step: We decided to befriend data rather than avoid it, and we took the first steps toward identifying where to find our data. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the most valuable tool you can use to organize, analyze, and visualize data.