Shifting the Data Conversation to Student Work

Educators are inundated with assessment data, state test data, summative assessment data, district-wide assessment data, practice test data. Here is some interesting data: all of that data isn’t improving student performance. According to NAEP results, there has been little to no movement in pre-pandemic math and reading scores across the United States.

After a decades-long attempt to push data at educators, it’s time to shift the conversation back to the most important data: actual student work. Take Ajami, for example. Assessment data shows she is two years below grade level in math class. But what exactly is Ajami struggling with, why is she struggling and what specific actions can her teachers take to support her?

Looking at her actual work will give educators concrete next steps. The past two days her math class has been focused on the following NY Next Generation Learning Standard:

Standard: NY-6.NS.5 — Understand that positive and negative numbers are used together to describe quantities having opposite directions or values. Use positive and negative numbers to represent quantities in real-world contexts, explaining the meaning of 0 in each situation.

Yesterday her math teacher assigned the following one-question Exit Ticket as a formative assessment. In addition to the question, you can see Ajami’s responses below.

Using Ajami’s student work as “data”, we can determine that she is struggling to represent “situations” with positive and negative numbers. How can we provide targeted instructional support?

  1. Ensure ELL teacher does small group support on situational words such as “backward” and “sea surface”.
  2. Assign iReady intervention lessons on “representing positive and negative numbers”.
  3. Provide targeted small group support to Ajami with more opportunities to explain her thinking when representing positive and negative numbers.
  4. Ask Ajami to come up with her own examples of positive and negative numbers using real-world scenarios.

In summary, student work is the ultimate form of data — it provides educators with insight into how students are thinking. Teachers sharpen their pedagogy when they recognize why students are struggling. Using student work, new teaching strategies, intervention plans and assignments can be drawn up with real purpose and specificity.

Check out how GRADED+ will help your school capture, store and use student work to improve the teaching and learning process for both students and teachers.

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