When Students Track Their Own Data, They Take Ownership of Their Learning and Progress

Data, data, data: a common buzzword in education. As a teacher, I am constantly thinking about my students’ data. How did they perform on their recent exit ticket, unit exam, interim assessment, SAT, and CAASPP? How many days have they been absent or tardy? What is their Lexile level or English learner status? The list of assessments and data can go on an on. As a teacher, I use this data to inform my classroom instruction by tailoring my lessons to the needs of all of my students. This sometimes means going back to reteach a concept, spiraling back to go over a specific skill, scaffolding to support struggling readers, and extending a topic to challenge advanced students.

But on the student end, students are faced with constant tests and assessments that teachers claim are “important” and critical for their futures. So how do we get students to care about their own personal data?

First, the why is ultimately the most important aspect of every piece of data. Why does it matter? Why should students care about it? Next comes the how. How is this data relevant? How can the data reveal improvement? As a teacher I can sound like a broken record constantly reminding students the importance of their data but the ‘ah ha’ moment is when they see it for themselves.

As a school, we identified the top pieces of data that are both trackable (occur more than one time per year) and connected to our school wide focus of reading and analyzing grade level complex texts. For our students, that meant lexile score (tested three times per year), interim assessments (three times per year in English, math and science), SAT and SAT practice exams (four times per year), and grades and attendance (every five weeks).

So what do they do with all of that data? Every time students have a new piece of data, they input it into their own personal data tracker. Their data tracker is on a Google sheet that they use starting freshman year through senior year. During weekly goal setting, students set SMART goals focused on a single piece of data and the action step they intend to take in order to improve. Over time, students can see their progress throughout the year as well as throughout their time in high school. Now instead of just taking an “important test” students can put a piece of their own data to the test. The students are now the ones to take ownership over their own data not only the teacher. With more student by-in, pushing students to higher achievements becomes a team effort.

What do you think?

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Chelsea Culbert

Chelsea Culbert

Chelsea Culbert is a proud product of New York public schools where she graduated with her International Baccalaureate diploma. She went off to attain her B.A. in Chemistry with concentrations in Public Health and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies at NYU. While at NYU, she started the chapter of “Strive for College,” a non-profit organization that connects college students as mentors to assist high schoolers throughout the college application and financial aid processes. Immediately after graduation, Chelsea pursued her teaching career with Teach for America Los Angeles. While teaching, Chelsea completed her Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University. Chelsea is currently teaching at her Teach for America placement school in Lincoln Heights where she serves as Department Instructional Lead, Instructional Leadership Team member, and coaches Varsity soccer.

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