Student Data – Beyond the Scores

Image by:  Adamr


At times, I think that the term “data” produces negative feelings from some educators.  Why?  Well … sometimes  the term is negatively associated with teacher accountability.  It’s also one of those buzz words that seems overused at times.   As an educator, information/data can be an important tool in my tool belt as I utilize it to inform and individualize instruction.  I’m surprised to find that the general public seems to view student data as just scores from standardized tests.  I don’t think that data can be limited to standardized assessment results.


Below,  I’m going to create a data collection list for educators.  I’m not going to include yearly state assessment data, such as MSA in my list.  I’ve found that standardized tests that are given once a year give little to no direction in informing instruction.  I remember a colleague once categorizing state assessments as autopsy reports.   They may be helpful in analyzing school data for school improvement goals, but for the individual teacher, they seem less than stellar.


Data Collection Tools –>

Survey Results – Collecting survey data can be one way to get to know your students on a personal level.  Developing rapport with students is key in helping them reach their potential.

Technology – Students can use iPads or computer activities to work on skills that need strengthening.  In the past I’ve used SplashMath to individualize instruction for specific students. For example, a student might receive only problems associated with place value for a certain time period.  I will get a report on a weekly basis on which problems were missed or correct.  This data can be emailed and utilized to inform further instruction. This feedback can immediately be put to good use.

Guided Groups – Guided math/reading groups can be a great way to collect data on individual students.  I’ve seen teachers travel around the room with a clipboard and collect student data in that manner.

Projects – Student projects can be utilized to collect student data.  Student work samples can also be used to develop a portfolio for each student.  Using a camera, educators can also take digital pictures to review and use during parent teacher conferences.

Journaling – Students write in journals about their skills and overall performance in the classroom.  I believe journals can be used in all classes.  I’ve had success utilizing journals in math classes.  When appropriate questions are asked, teachers can glean data regarding feelings about particular concepts that need revisiting.

Collaborative Work – Students often show dynamic strengths when working with a partner or group.  This type of information can be documented by the educator.  A self-reflection piece may also be helpful.

Unit Assessments – Unit assessments are not only meant to be graded and recorded.  Unit assessments can also be analyzed by students.  Students can check what questions were missed and set goals for their learning.

Exit Cards – Exit cards are generally given at the end of a lesson.  These cards are quick and informative.  Teachers can collect the exit cards and even have the students analyze the results.  Students can determine strengths/concerns and document them in a journal.

Student Data Binders – Students can place homework, tests, and projects in an individual data binder.  This binder should be a transparent way for teachers, parents, and students to review data to view strengths/concerns.

Standardized Assessment Data – The type of data that I’m talking about for this category relates to assessments that are given more than once per year.  An example could be the NWEA MAP assessment.  This assessment data can be used to find strengths/concerns and individualize instruction for students.


Utilizing Student Survey Results

 Image by: S. Miles


I’m currently preparing for next school year.   Part of my preparation includes the creation of a student survey.  After reading a post from @TerryFErickson I decided to create a survey (similar to this) for my current students.

I’m planning on using the survey data to make changes for next school year.   I’ve always valued student feedback via plus/delta charts, but this survey is intended to be utilized for next school year.   In order to best meet the needs of my students next year, I wanted to give my current students an opportunity to express their opinions regarding motivation.  I believe that motivation is often affected by the classroom climate.  The process I used for this survey activity is below.

1.)  Students complete the survey.  Here is the beginning of the survey:

2.)  After students complete the survey, I complied the results and displayed the data from different classes. (Click to enlarge)

3.) The class reviewed the data.

Based on this survey, the top three things that motivate my students are:

  • The teacher shows she/he cares about you and the other students in the class
  • The teacher shows that she/he really loves to teach and learn
  • The teacher uses technology when teaching

This activity took two class sessions to complete.  After a rich classroom discussion about the data, students concluded that the main factor that helps motivate them to learn is the teacher.