Educators, students, and families weathered historic interruptions in learning over the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Student achievement, predicted to slide in the ongoing chaos, revealed its fragile nature in the NAEP’s recently released Long-Term Trend results from 2020–2022. The report showed the first-ever decline in mathematics and the most significant drop in reading achievement since the 1980s.
Effective student data analysis
As educators address this new landscape, accurate interventions to accelerate student learning are in demand. In order to know what type of intervention a student needs, high-quality data remain an essential element for educators. Teacher review and understanding of students’ data will guide instructional decisions and create positive outcomes for all students.
Proper analysis of student data is a skill worth developing. Educators need to:
- Review prior intervention outcomes
- Identify each student’s current learning needs
- Select the best intervention to match these needs
- Measure the effectiveness of interventions
In order to make sense of prior efforts to address student learning needs, teachers can review historical data trends to view the complete picture of a student’s learning progress.
Gathering and analyzing multiple data points over weeks and months is the most accurate method to inform instruction. Pulling a single data point for use can be tempting, especially when the pressure to implement interventions is intense, but caution is recommended here. A single data point may show an aberration. If educators act upon a single data point, they may implement unnecessary, time-wasting interventions. Taking the long view by analyzing long-term data and identifying historical trends and patterns provides a solid base to draw from to guide instructional decisions.
Historical trends: An effective gauge for student mastery
Viewing historical trends in student data involves reviewing the lows and the highs of a student’s performance over time and helps educators identify where a student is succeeding and where deficits remain. Only multiple data points over months and sometimes years can accurately depict a student’s mastery level. Reviewing student data starting in November each year provides educators with qualitative and quantitative student performance patterns that can inform future instruction.
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