The value of data as a tool for informing instruction is well-established. Educators know that predictive analytics can help identify problem areas, shape intervention strategies, and move students toward learning goals — but to achieve this, certain challenges must be overcome, a supportive culture must be nurtured, and a proper process must be put in place.
According to the US Department of Education, the three most-cited barriers among school staff members to using data in schools are the lack of training in how to use the data system or to derive instructional implications from it; lack of time to engage in data exploration and reflection; and weakness of the available data.
Additionally, “Many teachers are worried that data is used to judge their ability to teach,” said Tracey Roden, Istation’s former Senior Vice President of Curriculum, research and proposals.
“Critical to gaining teacher buy-in,” she urged, “is building a culture where data is used to help promote student growth and then using data to modify those plans when necessary.”
When implemented with care, “data gives educators the roadmap to how to help students be successful,” she said.
To help educators implement and benefit from data-driven decision-making, Istation developed the webinar “Leadership’s Role in Data-Driven Decision-Making.” Here is a summary of that session:
Lori Lynch, Istation’s Senior Vice President of Customer Success, told the webinar audience that developing a productive data team means selecting those who are best equipped for each particular role.
By way of assessing team buy-in, Lynch explained, questions must be asked, including:
■ Are team leaders respected by their peers?
■ Are teachers getting excited about the information?
■ Is that excitement contagious — do their students feel it?
Lynch also stressed the importance of keeping it simple, particularly at the outset. Avoid inundating teachers with too much information. Start with just a few reports that they will use most frequently.
The Power of Differentiation
During the webinar, Julie Kalinowski, Professional Development Project Lead for Istation, spoke about the value of deploying data to differentiate among students at all levels, “from the third percentile to the 99th.”
She described how, as a young teacher, she would group her Tier 3 students together and provide focused instruction, but “I still wasn’t seeing the kind of growth I wanted.”
When she began using data to drive her instruction, she realized that grouping those students together wasn’t “doing anybody any favors, because it’s just me making the assumption that all Tier 3 students are the same.”
She began placing her kids in smaller groups based on percentiles, “because I didn’t want to only teach the middle. . . . I wanted to differentiate even within the tiers. The impact that we saw was massive.”.
Tune into tomorrow’s blog to learn more about data-driven differentiation!