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Using Data to Increase Student Achievement

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  • 0:03 Using Data to Increase…
  • 0:54 Objectives and Assessment
  • 2:00 Data Analysis
  • 4:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Why do teachers give assessments? Probably not for the love of grading. So why does so much in education seem assessment-based? In this lesson, you'll learn more about how to use assessment data to improve student achievement.

Using Data to Increase Achievement

Sometimes teachers get bogged down by the amount of curriculum, so much so that student grades end up suffering. 'But I don't want them to miss anything,' says the English teacher reading To Kill a Mockingbird or the history teacher lecturing about the causes of World War I. Yes, we want our students to get everything they can from their education, but if we give them too much information, what are they actually retaining?

Less is more, and a great way to analyze what students know is through assessments. If you're a teacher you might be thinking, 'Of course I give assessments. That's what we do as teachers.' While this is true, the next question becomes: What are you doing with those assessments, and how are you analyzing the data to ensure student success?

Let's take a look at what it means to assess and how to analyze the data you receive to ensure students are getting the most from your instruction.

Objectives and Assessment

Before we can talk about analyzing data, we need to discuss assessment methods. How are we assessing students, and what are the objectives? If our objectives don't match our assessments, then we need to stop and rethink our methods.

Objectives are the goals we want our students to be able to achieve on their own once the lesson, unit, and/or school year is over. Take traveling as an example. Do you just get in the car and start driving? Maybe, but having an objective is important, especially for a developing mind. As we teach, we show students a road map of how to get from point A to point B. After we model and give them time to practice, then it's time to assess. Our assessment should mirror the path we taught them in class so they can now figuratively drive the route on their own.

So now what? We have our objective, we've created an assessment, and we graded it. From here, we need to think back to our objectives. What did we want students to gain from the road trip we brought them on? With that objective in mind, we need to begin data analysis.

Data Analysis

We talked about less being more, and this is true for assessments. We don't want to overwhelm a student with a paper full of red marks, which can be easy to do since we can use the same type of assessment to analyze different facets of a student's learning.

For example, consider an open response question where a student must analyze a specific piece of content writing and create an argument based on the prompt and passage. When teaching this type of writing, forcing a 15-year-old to focus on all steps at once is daunting. Instead, start small with their thesis statement. Read through each statement and see what level your class is at. Maybe they did well, in which case you can move on to something else. Or maybe you're realizing you need to spend more time on creating thesis statements.

Now it's time to stop, refocus your teaching, and go back to the drawing board with thesis statements. If students can't write a proper thesis statement, how can they write the rest of the response? This method is data analysis with student achievement in mind. We taught them a skill, analyzed how well they did, and went back to fill in the learning gaps, all thanks to the information we analyzed from the assessment. We don't want to grade just to grade; we want to use students' work to decipher what they know and what they still need to learn.

It's easy to say, 'I don't have time to stop, or I won't get through everything I need to.' But how does that help students? If they can't write a thesis statement, how can they move on to pull correct textual evidence? If kids don't know how to add, multiply, subtract, and divide, how will they ever learn the FOIL method (first, outside, inside, last)? If students can't label the parts of the cell, how will they understand how the cell works as a whole? We need to take the time to analyze our students' work so that we can assess what they need more instruction on. Without data analysis, our grading efforts become ineffective.

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