Monday, May 10, 2010

Role of Data

Last week, I was sharing the student achievement summaries with the school improvement team, and then let them loose to explore the data on their own. The professionals in the room, for whom I have great respect, were overwhelmed. It made me realize that we have not empowered our teachers to use the data to answer their own questions. Much like our traditional classrooms, we have in the past told our teachers what the data say and have given them the questions that they should hunt and find the answers to (and we know the answers already, so really we are seeing if they can come back with the correct answers). In a student-centered classroom, we want kids to make their own meaning from the information and make connections to their prior knowledge. This is no different than what we want for our teachers.

I don't believe that data say the same thing to everyone. Sure the overview or summary of percent proficient is a place to start, but based on my experiences, the kids I have in my room, what I saw happening during testing that day, and a variety of other factors, I will want to go into the data differently than another teacher. That's when data really becomes powerful. When teachers can look at data and generate more questions than answers, that's when I believe the data is impacting and informing instruction. I love it when teachers ask me to get them more data. I love it when teachers say, "If this data were correlated to that data, then I could see if..."

Here's my ultimate goal, teachers will be the driving force behind our data collection, analyzation, and communication, not some lady in the curriculum office. AND the students will be right there with their teachers making sense of the information and using it to inform their learning.

Some of my favorite data phrases:
- If we can't use it, don't collect it.
- Kids can't take a test seriously if teachers don't take the information from the test seriously.
- Shouldn't kids understand their scores? Whose data is it anyway?

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