Data is coming at us from all sides these days

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As an educator, we are inundated with data. The commonly used acronym D.R.I.P. is beyond relevant. It stands for Data Rich Information Poor, meaning that we have a lot of accessible data but nothing to do with all of it. We are not able to utilize all of the accessible data on our students to move them forward. So, what do we do? Do we ignore the data and cherry pick the most relevant or the easiest to understand? Do we wait until administration or a team lead pull data for us? Do we ignore all the data coming at us and collect our own sets of data?

As an instructional tech coach, I have seen teachers cherry pick data, throw out data that does not make sense to them, wait for their administrator to provide a data breakdown, and even start from scratch and create all new sets of data for their students. We need to focus on the benefits of data and take time making sure that teachers understand how to read the data put in front of them. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is one of my tools for collecting quantitative data that is directly aligned to grade level standards. Smarter Balanced is also directly aligned with CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) and provides students with questions and opportunities to respond in a similar testing environment as CAASPP.

With Smarter Balanced assessments, teachers can choose the type of assessment and data that they want to collect. Interim Comprehensive Assessments (ICA) provides data on a full range of grade level targets in one content area, this exam is most similar to CAASPP. The Interim Assessment Blocks are broken up into different claims and targets and provide smaller snapshots of students mastery of content. Smarter Balanced also has Focused IABs which focus on one specific target and claim. The Focused IABs are great for honing in on specific standards and determining students true understanding of that target.

I would want to use the Smarter Balanced data because it would be directly aligned with the standards that I am teaching in the classroom and will give me a projection of how my students will do on CAASPP. The ICA would only be used if students need additional support in building stamina for CAASPP or as a pre-assessment at the beginning of the year. Personally, I do not believe that ICAs are as valuable as IABs and Focused IABs. I would utilize focused IABs as a summative assessment at the end of a unit. Student outcomes would help me put together small groups for intervention and extensions. At the end of an intervention cycle I would use a focused IAB to determine if the students in that group have mastered the content. All data collected from IABs would be utilized to make instructional moves in the classroom, regardless of if we are in a traditional classroom setting or learning virtually.

The most important thing when it comes to data is ensuring that we can read it and that we are utilizing the data to make instructional moves. It is important that we are NOT living in a world where we, as educators, feel inundated with data. Data is a valuable tool that should be taken seriously!

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