Making Assessment Data Actionable: Focus on Students

Making Assessment Data ActionableWhat do students need to know to be able to act upon their own assessment data? What are different ways that students gather their data? What do students actually do with their data?

Students make decisions and judgments about what they will do and who they are as learners all the time, with or without achievement and learning data. For instance, they might decide on one of the following:

  • I am going to figure this out.
  • I’m going to do the minimum that is required.
  • This is too hard for me.

Or they might make a judgment about themselves as a learner that is based upon actual data or perhaps perception, which could include:

  • Why bother?
  • I never understand that.
  • I’m never going to get good at this.
  • I can’t learn it.
  • This ought to be easy for me.

We want students to own their learning, be self-advocates and practice self-regulation. To assist them with these goals, we need to teach them how to gather evidence of their learning and achievement. Establishing a classroom culture where these three goals are possible to achieve includes attention to the following:

  • Establish a classroom culture where it is safe to look at, talk about and use data
  • Provide a variety of methods for students to gather data about their learning and themselves as learners (formative assessment strategies)
  • Display data (visually and vibrantly)
  • Develop students’ data literacy
    • Explain how to read the data
    • Use data vocabulary regularly
    • Establish a practice of goal setting (classroom and individual)
    • Model how to identify patterns in data
    • Provide class time for students to work with their data (inclusive of feedback)
    • Model reflection on goals and outcomes
    • Use a protocol for data conversations
  • Provide quality learning targets for all learning (daily lessons and assignments)
  • Create learning logs or trackers, data binders, etc. for students to record their progress daily and monitor it over time (use digital tools when possible)
  • Use summative data formatively

Making students gatherers and users of their own data changes the dynamics of the classroom. Vocabulary in conversations becomes more quantifiable, even if it includes qualitative data. Students use academic vocabulary when advocating for what they need as learners or content to learn. The classroom learning team has a more collaborative focus on using data to change two things: 1) what students are doing as learners – the strategies and techniques they use to support their learning, and 2) the goals and foci within the classroom.

Making data actionable for students has several benefits. We’d love to hear what you are doing and changes you’ve seen. Oh, and BTW, the list above translates to school and district leaders in supporting teachers in making data more actionable as well.