“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.” By Anatole France
I decided to take the next several weeks to write about using data to drive instruction in the classroom as this is a topic I am passionate about. I decided to break it down into three parts: Using Formal Assessments, Informal Assessments and Pre Assessments. I decide to break it down this way as I think getting teachers to use data is important but it is most important in the classroom for formal assessment and it is the easiest place to start using data to drive your instruction.
Using data to drive instruction is something I think all teachers have heard of but don’t necessarily do in the classroom. When I talk with teachers about why they don’t use classroom data to drive their instruction, I usually get two responses: I don’t have time and/or I don’t know how.
For those of you that say you don’t have time, make time. We need to be doing what is best for our students and using data to drive instruction is a best practice. This is something that teachers should spend time on. It eventually doesn’t take as much time and if you have help of a facilitator or a grade level team to help divide up the work.
If you are one to say, I don’t know how; start with formal assessments. When creating an end of the unit assessment, make objective/strand boxes in the corners of your test based on your states essential standards or the Common Core. Label each question with an objective/standard, so when you are grading the tests you can see which objectives students have Mastered
(M) Partial Mastered (PM) or Not Mastered (NM). Here is an example for NC Essential Standards in Science- 4th grade
|__/_3 4.L.1.1 (M, PM, NM)__/_4 4.L.1.2 (M, PM, NM)__/_2 4.L.1.3 (M, PM, NM)__/_2 4.L.1.4 (M, PM, NM)For Teachers Use|
Looking at this box filled with data, you can see there were three questions on standard 4.L.1.1. If a student got all 3/3 questions on this standard right they would show mastery, if they got 2/3 then they would show partial mastery and 1/3 or 0/3 not mastered. The teacher can then use this data to create their re-teach groups for the following week. The students would have differentiated instruction based on their needs.
Yes, it takes some time to create common assessments that have objective boxes and the questions labeled to standards/objectives
but over time, you will only need to tweak the assessments as the Common Core and Essential standards will stay the same.
How can you use other measures of formal assessment to drive instruction that are not tests? Easy, use projects and portfolios ideas but base them around state objectives, essential standards or Common Core. This way you can still see what the students have mastered or not mastered. You can put the objectives/strands box next to the expectations on the project you designed and/or you can include them on rubrics. After the student turns in the project you can see what they have mastered or not mastered the same way you do with common assessments.
Next week, I will go into how to use data to drive instruction for informal assessments in your classroom. Please share in the comment section if you, as an educator, have other ways that you use formal common assessment to drive your classrooms instruction.