Instructional Insight

Tison Middle School

We make data driven decisions

This weeks newsletter will focus on how we can utilize data to drive instruction in our classrooms. We will look at the three facets of data-driven decisions: Assess, Analyze, and Action.


Data can help us form small groups for that are just right for our students.

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How do we know they learned it?

Just like when you take pit stops while embarking on an epic road trip, assessing should happen along the learning journey. There are two kinds of assessments (actually three, but we will focus on the two): Formative Assessments and Summative Assessments.


Formative Assessments are the pit stops, these types of assessments are used to gauge if students got it or not along the way. Formative assessments are a purposeful way of collecting data to progress monitor, intervene, and extend learning along the way. Using formative assessments has a huge pay off when you get to the summative assessments. These assessments are usually low stakes, provide opportunities for immediate feedback, check for understanding, and allow the teacher to identify students strengths and weaknesses in real time.


Think of summative assessments like the destination of your road trip, you put in a lot of hours and stops along the way to get there. A summative assessment happens at the end of the learning journey. If we only use these assessments it is hard to go back and help students master standards. WISD and the state have created summative assessments for us in the form of CBA's and STAAR. These are the end game for students to show (I like to say, celebrate) everything they learned in your course. If we only use these methods to check students progress and intervene it's too late to provide needing instruction to the student. It would be like driving on a flat tire the length of your road trip without stopping to get it fixed, and let's be honest no one wants to do that.


We can't leave our students stranded in the TEKS, so it is important to use formative assessments to monitor their strengths and weaknesses before they get to the summative assessment. Also, this would be great data to organize impactful and purposeful small groups! There are many ways to formative assess students learning below you will find links to resources and articles if you wish to explore the topic further.

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56 ways to gather evidence of student achievement

David Wees and colleagues created 56 ways to formative assess students learning

21 Formative Assesment tools

Make learnign fast and fun with these 21 assessment tools.

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What is happening now, and what is our next steps?

In order to lead to lasting change in student success, students learning needs to be analyzed when it happens. We must monitor and record student data to show not only ourselves but also the student their personal progress. Research has stated that when students are involved in their own progress monitoring their motivation for success increases. There are many ways to include students in their data monitoring, such as data folders, student-driven Google Sheets, and data talks or conversations with the students.


Everyone likes to hear "Good job, congratulations on your improvement" and other positive reinforcements. It's hard with 150 students to provide individual feedback, however with the addition of a small group you can target students and have good conversations about data. There are also some really cool tech ways to mass send students emails containing pre-made feedback comments, but it's important to remember conversation and relationships are always more impactful.


Questions to ask yourself when looking at data:

What is the data telling you?

What overall trends do you see?

How was this taught?

Where did students perform above expectation?

Where did students perform below expectation?

What do students need to be successful in this standard?

What similarities or differences occur across data sources?


More to come on data analysis in PLC!


*read to the beat of Meghan Trainor, All About That Base*

It's all 'bout that data, 'bout that data, no _______ ! (my rhyme game isn't as good as Mr. Sams so you'll have to fill in the blank).


Below are a few resources if you wish to explore data further.

Diving into Data

Diving into data publication 2014

Analyzing and Using the Data

Maryland School Improvement Data Recommendations

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How are we going to get them there?

Developing an action plan after assessing and analyzing data is crucial to student success. An action plan may consist of specific lessons, small group design, interventions, and/or activities to further teach the standards students are struggling with. Many factors go into forming an action plan including the creation of SMART goals for the student(s) or standards in need of action. Below are a few resources that will help in the development of Action Plans and SMART Goals.