Recently I had the honor of participating in a discussion on Education Table Talk on the subject of “Making Data Actionable.” What a great topic and phrase.
Other participants in this discussion included Brian Rick, Director of Research and Assessment in Bellingham Public Schools in Washington, and Helene Duvin, Director of Education and Assessment Solutions at Pacific Metrics. Both Brian and Helene talked about engaging the students more in using their own data to move their learning forward and helping teachers know how to use the data for instructional change.
We talked about the fact that teachers have several requirements of data. It needs to be accurate, meaningful to multiple stakeholders, and support learning – either by providing clean next steps, or help for teachers to outline those steps. Data are more actionable the sooner they are received. Immediately actionable data comes from the use of formative assessment practices and is actionable for the teacher and the student. The next most timely data includes end-of unit and interim assessment data. Both of which can be made actionable by teachers and students. Having time to share, dialogue about and set goals support making the data more actionable for all stakeholders.
Our host, Michael Jay, asked several thoughtful questions about this topic, to include:
+ How are data utilized by teachers, students, administrators and learning systems for learning and teaching?
+ How can we help with the tension that exists between high-stakes and classroom assessment?
There was also conversation about how administrators might support teachers in using formative assessment. All three of us listed time as a necessary ingredient helping them in the process. From my perspective, administrators can help teachers use formative assessment by providing 3 key ingredients: an environment that supports safe risk taking; administrative support of the work – create a space for the learning to happen and time to collaborate; time to share practice, give and get feedback, and reflect and learn more about formative assessment.
And Michael left us with additional questions to consider as well:
+ How do we make assessments something that we aren’t doing to teachers, but with teachers?
+ From earlier data, it seems as if teachers are interested in formative assessment and administrators are concerned with summative assessments. How do we get administrators interested and engaged in formative assessment?
+ How do we change community expectations about what makes for good evidence in learning?
This topic of actionable assessment data contains multiple layers. As I consider this in future posts, I’d love to hear what you are thinking and doing to make data actionable for you, your colleagues and your students.