There has been a lot of talk lately that we are testing students too much. It’s true, students do undergo more assessments than we did when we were in school. While testing is exhausting and stressful on both teachers and student, we need to find a way to use the data from all of those assessments to effectively improve student learning. But how do we do it, where do we start?
Understand the data you are collecting
Too often do students take standardized assessments and we as teachers have no idea how to understand the results. One way to solve this is to really take the time to sit down and understand what data these assessments are collecting and how they are doing so. If you don’t have time to spend hours scouring state standardized testing sites, you can collect your own data. If you do decide to start collecting your own data, remember these two things: keep it simple and keep it small. You don’t need to create a complex algorithm to measure your students understanding. Keep it simple and don’t try to overcomplicate collecting student data. There are a number of helpful products out there that can aide you in collecting student data. Keep it small: you don’t have to assess your students in every subject that you have taught them at the same time. Keep it small and start with one subject or subtopic you would like to assess. This keeps you from becoming too overwhelmed.
Look for gaps
This might sound obvious but one of the most beneficial things data can provide us with is that it can show us exactly what our students are struggling with. Good data should give you a baseline of how you can tailor instruction specifically to address those gaps. Once you are able to fill in those gaps your students should begin to flourish. Need ideas for Common Core aligned lesson plans? Check out this amazing resource.
Open communication channels
Now that you have collected, understood, and analyzed your data you can use it to start a dialogue with parents. If you have students with large gaps in their understanding you are going to need parent support to really make significant progress in filling them. By talking with parents you will be able to explain to them where the gaps exist and how to best mend them. Parents support will be very helpful when you are trying to give extra homework assignments and when you encourage additional practice to mend the gap.
Want to learn how Sokikom uses data to drive instruction? Contact a member of our School Success team.