Strategies For Analyzing And Using Multiple Sources Of Data For Instructional Improvement

912 words - 4 pages

Teaching a student was once just that; teaching. The past ten years have required a much more formal analysis from teachers about how their students are doing and what they, as teachers, should do about it. Teachers have now become students of data. They must prepare students for tests (usually standardized), and, a few months later, teachers receive results from those tests. It is at that point that teachers should learn from the data that is provided to them via test results. The teachers are given data, but how should they use it? Is that one test enough to give any answers about students or the teachers who prepared them? There are many strategies in which educators use data, but there are three ways that continue to surface in education as effective: collect data from a variety of sources, participate in professional learning activities to plan strategic instruction using data, and continually assess students and modify instruction based on ongoing results.
Many schools and school systems focus too much energy on one or two yearly assessments (Protheroe, 2001). The data collected from these assessments is often shallow, and it does not give teachers much direction. The first strategy that schools and systems should use is to collect data from a variety of sources. Pathways to College Network (n.d.) lists several categories from which pertinent school improvement information can be gathered, classified, and analyzed including demographic information, attendance and discipline statistics, classroom assessment results, benchmark testing data, and national assessment results. A great deal can be learned if all of the data provided in the aforementioned categories is disaggregated and analyzed by educators. All of the information put together can provide a full picture of where students are, where they should be, and what tools they will need to get where they are going. Teachers are able make educated determinations about the needs of students based on data (Lewis, Madison-Harris, Muoneke, & Times, 2010) instead of following the pacing guide given by the school system.
The second strategy to effectively use data is for educators to participate in professional learning activities to plan strategic instruction using data. Professional learning activities do not only include formal professional development for which CEU’s can be earned, but they also include informal, collaborative meetings with other teachers in the school and school system. Collaborative meetings both within the school and across the system may probe teachers and other educators to realign the current curriculum (Protheroe, 2001). Other professional learning activities may offer instruction on “data literacy skills” as well as strategic teaching practices that have been proven to increase student learning (Pathways to College Network, n.d.). Teachers cannot stay...

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