Data Day is Coming – Make It Meaningful

#A2TDataDayClick the STAR to like this post and comment below with your best Data Day suggestions .

September 2, 2021

It’s September, which means many schools will soon host a teacher work day to look at student data and formulate a plan for lower-tiered or struggling students. For some schools, this can mean asking teachers to look at students test scores in last year’s state standardized tests and, if they are below a certain level, or close to the next level, they are added to a list of target students to maintain focus on and provide additional structured support. Then a form is completed and submitted with the names and some ideas of how you will support them.

This isn’t necessarily bad, or wrong, but it is monotonous work that is often unproductive or meaningless to simply check a box that it was done. Which can leave teachers dreading the experience and the lost time.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

First and foremost, we must remember the WHY. Every child learns and excels at different times, in different ways, and at different things. As educators, we know this. This day is about identifying students that struggle and need extra help. These get grouped into Tier 2 and tier 3 students, based on how much help they need. But when you are in a low school and MOST, if not ALL, the students meet the criteria, choosing them based on other elements, such as how many points they count for at the school, this can feel overwhelming.

Not to mention, this can leave teachers feeling invaluable since this doesn’t get them beyond a DOK level 2 and a deeper thinking in their field, or use of their skills and trainings they’ve spent time on. Knowing who and what isn’t enough, and knowing when it is simply because of low test scores doesn’t reflect a teacher’s personal experience, knowledge and observation, or really dig into the HOW to achieve this goal.

So, let’s talk about how we can add value to Data Day for our teachers and our schools, and capitalize on their expertise.

BEYOND THE REPORTS – MEETING AS A TEAM The data is great to have, but, let’s be honest, processing data is time-consuming and strains the brain. Once this step is done, most are too exhausted to go beyond this point with any real meaning and may plan to come back to it, but can get too busy to do so. The most beneficial use of time is for the data to be processed ahead of time, given to the teachers, then let them use their time to plan for interventions and supports to build into their curriculum. Have you ever seen a group of excited and inspired teachers get together to plan? They are an unstoppable force, which can result in better ideas created and implemented. This can be great when you have new teachers to education or the subject area that can benefit from veteran teachers and their expertise. Also, it can be very beneficial for students since it will give them consistent support in multiple classrooms and allow them to find value in seeing it in use in other areas. So, how can these teams be broken down? Well, that depends on your school and how it is structured.

STUDENT DATA PROCESSED IN ADVANCE–BY TEACHER Many schools will pull the data by teacher and give them spreadsheets of test scores, then ask the teacher to process and find the target students. This wastes valuable time the teachers could be spending on planning for Tier 2 and 3 supports and interventions. After years of experience, this is not the best method to use, but it is the one most frequently used because it is easiest.

STUDENT DATA PROCESSED IN ADVANCE–BY SUBJECT Another option is to already have student data pulled and processed by subject area to allow the teachers in that subject to plan interventions together. This will allow them to focus on the core subject area and share strategies that work well for various student types, while learning knew ideas from other teachers they may not get to co-teach with. And it may inspire them to co-teach or swap on some subject areas.

STUDENT DATA PROCESSED IN ADVANCE–BY GRADE This option is great with lower grades or upper grades that use team teaching since it allows them to work as a team to plan supports across the curriculum. That means that all the teachers can be consistent and focus on their subject area, as well as examine opportunities to co-teach between complimentary subjects on projects to truly engage a student.

INCLUDE THE ELECTIVE TEACHERS These teachers shouldn’t be left out of the intervention planning and support process. Often, struggling students look forward to these classes, so giving them an opportunity to engage in them and build their academic skills can help them see the value of the skill in action. But some elective teachers are experts in their field of expertise and may still be building their “teacher tools”, especially when it comes to tested areas. And since many of them teach multiple grade levels, they can miss out. A great plan is to have them meet with the intervention specialists/academic coaches to match skills and practices to student and subject area. While it may make for challenging scheduling, it is extremely beneficial if they can meet after the academic teachers have met and have their intervention supports shared so that it is an extension of, not in addition to.

DON’T LEAVE STUDENTS BEHIND This seems like a no brainer, but I have seen students that are performing on target, are average and doing okay, left to struggle and fall into needing support.

COME BACK TOGETHER Whatever you do, come back together to talk about it, not just on that day, but make this a part of the weekly meetings so it isn’t forgotten. If the objective of the day is to fill out a form, it can make buy in from teachers very low. Some may rush through it and move on to other tasks that need their attention. By working together to plan and discuss successes and failures and to make adjustments in meaningful ways throughout the year, not only will their be more teacher engagement, but the success rate of the students will improve.

The key to a successful data day is that it works to the benefit of the benefit of the student, and the best way to do that is to use the “work smarter, not harder” principle.

Be sure to click the STAR to like this post and comment below with your best Data Day suggestions. Also, be sure to share this blog with other teachers, and subscribe so future blogs come straight to your inbox! I blog about teaching, but also food, family, travel and other inspirations! You can also find me on Twitter (@addictedtoteac1), Facebook (Addicted2Teaching) or even on YouTube to check out some videos before I just focused on blogging (Sonya Barnes – Addicted to Teaching) and join the conversation, get more ideas, share your story or just interact with me.