Thursday, January 22, 2015

Got Data; Now What?

We are half way there now, but hopefully we are not living a just a prayer. With the first semester behind us, we are assessing students  with common assessments and benchmarks.  Why do we spend valuable class time to administer  tests?  (The question that resounds in the minds of many busy teachers.)   There can be many benefits  of administering mid-year assessments.

 Not only do assessments help us to gauge where students are  in closing academic achievement gaps and meeting goals, but assessments also assist teachers in providing authentic testing practice for their students.  Curtis Elementary teachers will be pulling out their "Plus/Delta's" and "PDSA's" in the coming week.  Classroom conversations focused on  what went well during testing and what did not go so well will help to ease the anxious minds of young test takers.  Adapting classrooms, providing proper accommodations to alter the testing environment so that it is conducive for a positive test taking experience will be part of this important conversation with students.  The ultimate goal is to identify the best testing environment to allow each student to demonstrate what they know.

Our teachers at Curtis Elementary will also utilize the district assessment data in order to make important decisions that will impact student achievement.   The data will be disaggregated to determine standards that need to be re-taught. Teachers will be able to determine how to shift their teaching practices and tweak strategies  in order to better engage students.

The most important thing our teachers will do with the data they collect from these mid-year assessments is to share the data with students.  Whose data is it anyway?  It is the students' data!  How can our students truly improve and learn if they do not know their weaknesses?  By allowing student to understand their data, teachers can empower them to change their own path. Before they can make significant changes in learning, students must be part of the process for change.  Allowing student to develop their own plan for improvement will yield higher increases in academic achievement. Curtis Elementary students will be analyzing data, tracking data in their data binders, and making connections regarding their own improvement.  Students will develop plans for how they will cross thresholds and move towards reaching their goals!