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Benefits of Using Assessment Data to Drive Instruction

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  • 0:04 Assessments Define
  • 1:04 Using Assessment Data
  • 1:43 Data Shows Mastery
  • 2:33 Data & Struggling Students
  • 3:29 Data Improves Teaching
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Assessments are powerful tools that can give you precise data about student learning. Using that data to drive instruction is incredibly important for effective teaching. This lesson will detail some benefits of using data to drive instruction.

Assessments Defined

The word 'test' is usually one of the most dreaded words to hear in the classroom. Students dread tests because they know they're going to be graded. Teachers dread tests because they fear what they might reveal about student learning, which can lead to frustration. However, in order to be an effective educator, you need to think of testing as a type of tool to unlock a student's full potential.

An assessment is essentially a type of evaluation tool intended to glean data about student learning and areas of difficulty. Many teachers think assessments mean testing, but assessments are not just tests. They can consist of a variety of activities that allow students to demonstrate understanding and mastery of skills. The important thing is that they give you, the teacher, important information about student learning.

This lesson will share the story of a teacher who has mastered the art of using assessment data to drive instruction. Through her story, you will see the benefits of this skill so you can begin using it in your own classroom.

Using Assessment Data

Mrs. Jones is a 4th grade math teacher. She's been teaching for 20 years and has learned the value of using assessment data to drive instruction. Mrs. Jones gets excited when giving assessments to students because she knows she's going to learn something new about every student in her classroom.

Mrs. Jones uses assessment data for three specific reasons. One, because it can show her which students have mastered a skill and are ready to move on to a new concept. Two, it can show her which students need additional help or where she has to adjust her instruction. And, three, assessment data helps her plan future lessons by showing her what works and what doesn't.

Data Shows Mastery

After Mrs. Jones feels that she has spent sufficient time on a skill, she usually gives a formative assessment. This type of assessment is often used in the middle, rather than the end, of a unit or series of lessons to check how student understanding of the concept is progressing. It helps Mrs. Jones determine who is learning and who is struggling.

The assessment data allows Mrs. Jones to identify the students that are showing mastery. She knows that students have mastered the skill because the assessment she designed tested that mastery. For those students, she can begin implementing enrichment activities. Such activities give Mrs. Jones the chance to get creative with her lessons, as she wants to challenge those students to go beyond what she has taught and explore their own learning. Without assessment data, Mrs. Jones would not know when and if to plan these activities.

Data & Struggling Students

Identifying struggling students is arguably the most important aspect of using assessment data to drive instruction. When Mrs. Jones assesses her students, she's also looking for students who haven't yet mastered the skill she taught and what specific area they are struggling with. By doing this, Mrs. Jones can alter her instruction to fit the needs of those students.

For example, through assessment data, Mrs. Jones is able to identify which students are still struggling with multiplication. To address this problem, Mrs. Jones might take some time to work with this group of students on learning their multiplication tables. Without the assessment data, Mrs. Jones would not have known to do this.

Mrs. Jones understands that, as a teacher, it's her job to ensure that all students are learning. The only way she can intervene with students who are struggling is by using assessment data to identify those students and adjust her instruction to help them master skills.

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