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Data is More Than Just a Hammer! How to Use Data Effectively to Guide Instruction

by Teresa Woodard on November 3, 2015

Data can be so misunderstood. There's even disagreement over the word itself. Singular? Plural? Both? 

It’s unfortunate that data often has a negative connotation on school campuses says Mona Savage, English Language Arts Elementary Coordinator for the McKinney Independent School District in McKinney, Texas.  

 “The biggest misconception about data is that it is the hammer. It’s not the hammer,” she says. “It’s not supposed to point out inefficiencies, weaknesses, and a lack of knowledge. It does just the opposite. It finds areas to grow, areas to improve.” Instead of looking at data as a hammer that crushes things, what if you could position data as a tool that helps build things?Instead of looking at data as a hammer that crushes things, what if you could position data as a tool that helps build things?

That’s how Mona sees it -- as part of a blueprint.

“Data tells us where we’re going to go,” she says. “It puts what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it in focus. It guides instruction.”

Mona says teachers on campuses where data isn’t seen as a benefit instead think of data as something that shines a light on bad instruction.

“Campus leaders have to create a culture where data is seen as helpful, not hurtful,” she says. “What they feel and believe will trickle down.”

Mona has these suggestions for campus leaders:

  • Model how simple it is to interpret data.
  • Don't over analyze it. Look at it and move on.
  • Position data as a strategic way to provide targeted interventions.
Mona says Istation Reading has provided her district with critically important data. Using Istation reports, McKinney ISD quickly pinpoints specific literacy skills where students have room to grow. Then teachers intervene with targeted instruction. “We have seen drastic improvement in our reading success across the district,” she says.

 

Follow Mona on Twitter: @mona_rsavage

Topics: Teacher to Teacher, Istation Training Topics