Data. That 4-letter word! Often when teachers hear the word data, it makes us cringe. You mean we have to look at data to determine what we are teaching? That takes so much time. For those of us who have been in education for a while, it can be hard to get into that mindset of looking at data in order to determine what to teach. I mean, really, I’ve taught long enough, I know the areas that are the concern, and I plan for that in my lessons….Right?
Data analysis is actually one of a teacher’s best tools. It can be as holistic as looking at the summary of data to determine strengths or weaknesses within a Professional Learning Community (PLC), or it can be used to determine whether students missed a question because of knowledge and skill or due to a poorly written question.
It seems easy: give the formative assessment and look at the data. From there, use the data to create differentiated assignments addressing the strengths and weaknesses of the class. The problem is logistics. How do you do that when you have 150 students, a pacing guide for your district-wide unit, school meetings and other routine duties, all while trying to have some sort of home life?
I wish I could say that our school has figured it all out, but we are still in the process of working on it. I do know that we have decided to use a tool for assessment that will give us the data immediately. Our teachers have started using Edcite to create assignments for students so the data will be quickly and easily accessible. For example, our math teachers administer formative assessments to gather data for our RtI sessions that we hold twice a week. Teachers look at the data, determine what types of sessions they need to offer students, and then give exit slips after the sessions to determine if students have mastered the skills.
We also use Edcite’s new platform, Edcite Schools, which gives us the ability to create master distributions of assignments and analyze far more powerful reports. This saves teachers time because one person can make an assignment and distribute it to all students in a grade level, across classes. There is also a feature to create groups and folders for teachers to access for collaboration.
Our school is moving forward with the data piece in education. Weekly we are looking at ways to make data analysis easier, more efficient, and more effective for teachers in order to help students progress and achieve.
We know it is a long journey, but we are up to the challenge.
Melanie Thiesse has been in education for 31 years. She has taught junior high English and business classes. With her experience in both English and business, she was asked to design a course and write the curriculum for a class that combined business skills with English skills. It was adopted by the state, and several districts in Arkansas adopted the course for their schools. For the last 4 years, Melanie has been working as an Instructional Facilitator. She enjoys working with teachers to help them provide rigorous instruction to students to prepare them for the future. Melanie is also part of Edcite’s advisory panel of teachers, the Edcite Evangelists.