3 ways our district avoids data overload

If teachers are overwhelmed with data, they won’t use it to inform their instruction. Here’s how we solved this challenge

3. Give teachers only the information they need to improve teaching and learning.
Even though we had a powerful system that collected data in one place and made the information easy for teachers to understand, we still had many teachers who weren’t using the system to drive instruction. We realized during a staff meeting how few people were actually using it when we asked teachers to log in and follow along with our presentation—and many admitted they didn’t know their password.

That was a big wake-up call for us. We recognized that if we wanted teachers to use the platform, we had to simplify the number of reports for them to look at, so they wouldn’t be inundated with data.

Illuminate DnA has a dashboard that is fully customizable. Users can add or create “tiles” for various applications and reports, and clicking on a tile from the home screen takes you directly to that resource. To make the system as easy as possible, we created customized dashboards for each grade level. Each of these dashboards contains tiles only for the handful of reports and resources that we think will have the greatest impact on student success at that grade level.

For example, a kindergarten teacher will see tiles for kindergarten standards, kindergarten readiness reports, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) results, DIBELS results, and intervention plans. A fifth-grade teacher sees tiles for the fifth-grade standards, Interim Assessment Block (IAB) results, EasyCBM results (an indicator for our Response to Intervention system), and state testing resources.

We also push out tiles to teachers at all grade levels, including attendance, grade books, math pacing guides, and writing rubrics. We’ve narrowed in on the reports and resources that teachers use regularly and avoided resources we knew they would only use infrequently. We wanted these tiles to become an intricate part of our teachers’ daily experience, and by streamlining the amount of data we put at their fingertips we have seen that happen.

This simple change has paid big dividends. Our teachers are now regularly using data to shape their practice. They are sharing and discussing their use of these tiles within grade-level teams. They have even begun asking us to add tiles for other reports they want to access—and they no longer suffer from data overload. Best of all, we are noticing gains in student achievement as a result.

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