Parent/teacher conferences are quickly approaching or are already here for many of us. This time is always a little stressful and it is usually a time that we start unpacking data that we have started collecting on each student. If you are like me in any way, I always find that “good” data is often buried and difficult to access or it is “useless” data that I wished I never gathered. Here are some steps that I have taken over the last few years to ensure that the data that I am collecting is meaningful data that is used to help inform my instruction.
Make your goals clear. What are you trying to accomplish?
About 6 years ago my kindergarten team struggled with understanding our goals due to unclear goals at the district level. Nobody seemed to have a clear answer of what Student Growth Goals were. Armed with our Common Core State Standards (CCSS), my team and I unpacked the Common Core Math Standards and settled upon some critical areas that built the students foundations in math. Once our goals were clear, we were able to create a Common Math Assessment, build routines for giving the assessment and common ways to score the assessment. In short, know what your students need and make sure your goals are crystal clear so you are not assessing everything under the sun.
Organize your data. What will make the data meaningful?
One of my strengths is not in organizing data, however, the truth is that without a solid way to organize data, it becomes useless. In order to truly make an impact on student learning, you need a system that you, your team, students, administrators and parents can easily access and see. Find a system that works for you whether it is using a simple program like Excel or “old school” with paper and pencil accessible in a binder. How will you make the data accessible to all?
COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE! Being in a large school with over 120 kindergarteners, resources are in short supply. With a large school, staff are always fighting for more interventions/tutoring funds. By collaborating with other teachers and collecting data in a similar way, teachers can zoom in on struggling students more effectively. BOTTOM LINE is engage everyone for the purpose of student growth. By leveraging the data and telling a story with the data, the resources can be allocated in a more efficient and effective way.
In short, Make your goals clear, organize your data in a meaningful way and COLLABORATE!
I believe that the foundation of all learning begins in the home and all students are "OUR" students.Not yours, not mine but OURS.