How are you using data?

Data Driven Decision Making.  What a great buzz phrase from the 90's in the world of education.  The concept was simple, make instructional decisions based on student data.  The ongoing debate was always in regards to what data was to be used to make instructional decisions?

First, you need to determine what instructional decisions are being made from the data that is to be reviewed.  This can vary greatly from district administrators, curriculum directors, school administrators and teachers.  For example, a curriculum director may have implemented a new district-wide program and wants to see the effectiveness of student mastery for standards that were targeted with the program.  Conversely, a teacher may want to know if the lesson that was just taught impacted a conceptual understanding needed to move on to the next lesson.

Next, it is important to understand what data should be used to drive the instructional decisions.  The teacher above would not be able to gain the knowledge they were seeking by looking at the end of year summative assessment from the prior year.  A district administrator looking to view learning gains over the past few years would not find the informal classroom formative assessments useful in evaluating multi-year learning gains.

Let’s focus on the classroom teacher perspective when giving a formative assessment.  Formative assessments are used to judge the progress students are making throughout the learning process.  The results inform the teacher if they should proceed with the next learning objective or engage in corrective teaching strategies.

lens 1 - Item view

Looking at student performance at an assessment item level is a fast way to check if there may be misconceptions.  Notice the Actions Analysis Report below for this math class:

Based on this report, students did not perform as well on Item 1, Item 2 and Item 3 as other items.  However, what really stands out is Item number 12.  Students performed poorly on this item.  Why? Is there a common misconception that may have caused this low performance?

Looking at the Response Analysis, we can take a closer look at the distribution of responses made by the students for Item 12:

Only 17% of the students answered the item correctly.  An alarming 61% of the students chose “B” as the answer, which was incorrect.  Based on the Distractor Rationale that was provided with this item, “The student misinterpreted the proportional relationship and divided 256 by 8, the number of hot dogs per package.” 

An additional 22% of the students chose the incorrect answer of “C.”  Based on the rationale, “The student correctly calculated the rate of change but did not apply this to the number of hot dogs or factor in the number of hot dogs per package.”

Having this data available instantly is extremely valuable in determining to move forward with the concept, or worse, moving on to the next concept without addressing the misconception.

lens 2 - standards view

Another way to look at this data is to consolidate all of the items into common standards.  If we take the same formative assessment from above and look at it from a standards perspective, we can see how each standard represented on the assessment performed:

With this report, the number of items for each standard are identified.  This is important to ensure there is a large enough sample to make accurate assumptions based on the results.  In the report, standard MGSE7.RP.3 was represented in 5 items on the assessment. 

The total student population had the opportunity to earn a total of 90 points for those items.  This is the Points Possible.  The students earned a total of 43 points out of the possible 90 points.  Based on the graph, the 48% of possible points earned was far less than any other standard on the assessment.

Based on the analysis from both perspectives, it can be determined that the students struggle with “Use proportional relationships to solve multi-step ratio and percent problems.”  This should be addressed before moving forward with the learning objective.

Content is Key

The data received from formative assessments must be from high quality content.  Using poor assessment items to gather data that will in turn drive instruction will reduce the effectiveness of the formative assessment.

Lennections has partnered with Measurement Incorporated, a leader in content development for over 35 years, to provide a professionally constructed items bank with over 15,000 ELA and Math items.

Easily construct formative assessments by searching for items in the premium content banks, or use one of the many Ready-To-Go learning activities developed using these item banks.