3 Ways to Use Student Data to Improve Teaching

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Data collection isn’t just one test, on one day of the year. While standardized tests and even classroom exams are a common method for analyzing student performance, teachers can—and do—dive deeper into student data to help inform their instruction and understand what will improve academic performance overall.

Here are three effective ways teachers are collecting and using student data:

1. Classroom environment

A lot of information can be collected by observing and reviewing student behavior and learning performance. How does a student interact with classmates? Do they show they understand the material by commenting in class? Are they struggling with a lesson? Observing students in the classroom can offer great insights into how students interpret the curriculum and give you information to adjust pacing for the class or groups of students.

2. Outside your classroom

Communicating with the student’s previous teachers is a great way to gain insight into a student’s learning style and behavior. Teachers who have worked with a student in previous years can help determine their future learning needs. And a student’s performance can be more easily understood by reviewing their complete academic journey. Did their grades dramatically change at a certain point? What may have caused a decline in academic performance?

A student’s circumstances outside of the classroom can strongly influence their academic performance. Does the student have an unstable home environment? Have they been diagnosed with ADHD? Are they getting enough sleep? As teachers build relationships with each student, they can receive more understanding of what may influence a student’s academic performance.

3. Formative assessments

Formative assessments support learning while it’s still happening, checking for understanding along the way and helping teachers differentiate instruction and make decisions about future lessons. They don’t have to wait for the end of a lesson or take a lot of time. Some examples could include summaries and reflections, brief low-stakes quizzes, thumbs up/thumbs down exercises, or exit cards.

Gaining a clearer picture

To help teachers gain valuable insights into how their students are using Waterford, we recently released new dashboards that feature real-time data on student, class, school, or district level progress. The dashboards help teachers pinpoint exactly which groups or individuals need help and where they need it.

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