I work at a data driven school so we collect and look at data ALL the time. It drives our instruction. There’s definitely acknowledgement of qualitative data as well and we pour over student work, we conference with students, so we do make informed decisions using both qualitative and quantitative data. However, sometimes the sheer amount of data overwhelms and bums me (and the students) out.

Case in point: my advisory/homeroom class. I’ve seen their math growth with regard to the math practices (as well as math content), but that is not really evident on their mid-year benchmark (which probably isn’t the best benchmark to begin with). Thankfully, we’re a SBG school so I can show them their math growth, but I can’t take the look in their eyes when they see that they haven’t made growth based on this one mid-line benchmark. I’ll be the first to admit my students are *not* where they need to be. Many are 6th graders reading far below grade level. The same is true of their numerical fluency. So….I get it, but then I don’t. I know the mid-line is just a snapshot of how they did on that one particular day. So, I have a lot of feels about the message that they get when they see that. It’s a conversation that’s developing at my (fairly still new) school about how best to measure student growth, specifically in math. There’s fairly straightforward DRP (Degrees of Reading Power) to measure their reading growth. And when the DRP doesn’t give us helpful information we do running records, an oral assessment that accurately tells us students’ decoding, fluency, and comprehension of text. We have a pretty well developed rubric for argument writing, so we can see their growth and for what it’s worth it actually means something. Measuring math growth isn’t comparable to the other two. Growing 12% just means you got 12% of the questions correct or you guessed 12% better this time around. We’re using SBG and it just “**feels right”** to somehow incorporate that when we are trying to analyze student growth in math. And it would give me back teaching time…

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There are so many moments like these. As a teacher who has a few more years in and has been where you are and possibly taught enough to maybe give a word of advice, here’s mine:

This overwhelming feeling you have, is worth listening too. The data matters, but it isn’t everything. Step away from it. Shut it off for a while.

Do good teaching. Don’t overemphasize testing, because there is so much more our students need from us. The tests will change. Do the stuff you want them to remember you for.

Thanks! I’ve definitely found myself shutting it off more as a coping mechanism. Need to channel that further and just focus on the good teaching and celebrating my students’ growth!

Yes.

Thanks for sharing. This is a challenging topic as my school is moving towards using a “data-driven” approach this year. I went to a conference over the summer about using effect size to show student growth. I thought using effect size was fairly helpful in communicating to teachers as well as students the idea of focusing on individual growth over time. This year I’m giving a pre-assessment at the beginning of each math unit. That same pre-assessment is also given as the post assessment. The time between the pre and post is around a month or so. I staple the pre and post results together and students analyze the difference between the two at the end of the unit. We have a decent amount of reflection and move onto the next unit.

The baseline and mid-lines we used were exactly the same, but the issue was that the questions did not really align with what I had been teaching students between Sept-January (i.e. ratios, ratios, and more ratios). So students freaked out when they saw so much along the lines of expressions and equations in January which I am just getting into now in March. Clearly we need to go back to the drawing board, but also consider some adjusting within the scope and sequence of the curriculum…so I really like the idea of pre-post assessment with a follow up reflection. Thank YOU for reading and sharing your insight!