If you have spent time with a United Way of Salt Lake staff person for more than five minutes, you have undoubtedly heard about it: “what’s our baseline data?” or “are we sharing that data yet?” or perhaps, “yes, but what does the data tell us?” I am sure we sound like a broken record!
But, we sound like that for a reason; because data and data sharing matter! Whether we are looking at the “baseline” data to set a goal (trying to discern the root cause of a given problem), or looking back over time to see if what we are doing is working, the answer almost uniformly is found in the data.
It turns out, this is also very true for schools when it comes to improving student achievement. If you read my recent blog post on 90-90-90 schools, you might recall the idea of including students in looking at data to improve their scores going forward. I only touched on it in that post, but this simple act of letting students become a part of the “data team” has a huge impact.
To illustrate this point, have a look at John Hattie’s research, namely his book Visible Learning. In it, he ranks many factors that have an influence on student learning. The most important one, he calls “Assessment Capable Learners.” This means students who are familiar with their own test scores and have a good understanding of what the test is measuring, can reasonably predict their test results.
For example, at Granger Community School, teachers are using two exciting tools to involve students in their own data. First, students each have their own “student data book.” Each student has a small record of their personal scores and can track how they are doing over time. They can also set goals for the next test. Records include district and state, as well as in-class tests such as chapter tests and formative assessments.
The second tool used by teachers is posting a class data wall at the front of the classroom with the percentage of students who scored proficient on each test. In this way, teachers can “rally” their students around improving the overall scores on the following test. It is important to note, these do not have to be “high stakes” tests. They are even more effective when they are formative assessments given by the teacher to gauge where students are at with a given concept.
One Granger teacher experienced HUGE gains this fall when her classroom went from 39 percent on the pretest to 87 percent on the post test in spelling, and 41 percent to 84 percent in math. She reported that students were emailing her and posting to their class Facebook page well into the night prior to the test, trying to make sure they knew the material! This is what it means to be an Assessment Capable Learner!