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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Data Driven Decisions

Today our PLC will meet to discuss mid-year data related to students' ELA performance.  I am really proud of our leadership in this regard because they have put into place a data system that allows us to teach in child-centered, 21st century ways while also paying close attention to who is achieving and who needs greater attention and different instructional methods for optimal growth.

Last night, I carefully looked over the data.  I noticed which students in my class are solid with their ELA skills and knowledge, and which students need greater attention.  I thought about my students who need more from me and other teachers who work with me.  I analyzed the current program as well as the students' behaviors, attitudes and interests.  I noticed the following:
  • Students who are not doing as well need greater vocabulary development. I can think of many ways to develop this skill in meaningful, child-friendly, enjoyable ways.
  • Students who didn't do as well need more instructional time--we need to double-dose or triple-dose these students with apt instruction so that they can make gains and move through this reading/writing hurdle.
  • Some of these students need a detailed, coordinated plan since they bring to school more complex situations than other students, hence we have to think with greater depth and creativity to meet the needs of these students and ensure growth.
Today as we meet, the entire team will share observations and inferences about the data.  Our team represents a total of over 125 years of teaching experience, that's a lot of experience.  We'll imagine, debate and plan new instructional arrangements, materials and methods to help all of our students continue to develop their skills.  I look forward to hearing my colleagues' suggestions and ideas.  This respectful, child-centered, formative data process provides an effective tool for successful teaching.  The data also gives us evidence to use as we advocate for responsive time, scheduling and assistance so that we can meet all children's needs with care and skill.

The debate surrounding data looms throughout our country. We demonize data when we use it to punish and demoralize schools, students and teachers.  However, when used sensitively to develop learners, data is a wonderful tool.