As a high school math teacher in a previous life before taking this job in professional development with CA BOCES I always valued the importance of gathering data. Then, I enjoyed trying to make inferences from it, and look for possible sources of error or reasons why it might be skewed. My wife would tell you that I’m terribly skeptical of any stat or percent thrown out there in the media or with friends. I’m sure you all know this, but 73.6% of all statistics are made up!
In my new life with CA BOCES, I not only get to help teachers implement technology into their classroom, but I also get a chance to play with data and help schools find ways to use their data. We used data from state assessments at my old school to help modify our curriculum, so it’s not new to me, but Data Warehouse & showing the data to other schools is new…..then again most everything I do now is new!
Here’s my point, it’s amazing just based on one assessment (and that is my drawback to all of this, it is only one assessment) you can gain so much insight. Now that we have a few years worth of data you can look at one test, see what questions were missed, and find out how your students ranked among the region or the state. Then, you can look at Trend Reports (just came out in Data Warehouse) where you can see how an individual student did the past 3 years. The students earn a score of either 1,2,3 or 4 and this report even breaks those levels up into low, medium and high! THEN, you can go even deeper and look at a particular student and see what questions they missed on an individual test….. BRILLIANT!
Now, I won’t act like this data is the be all, end all. As one of my colleagues like to remind us, there is always a story behind the numbers. However, if your a teacher and you can have the information of not only how your students have done, but how the students you will get in September have done, that’s a leg up that was never afforded teachers before. Again, it’s just another piece to help out. The communication with your other staff members and trying to keep strengths a strength and to improve on any weaknesses is very important. Otherwise, it’s just numbers on paper…..maybe that is where the tall, dark and handsome data geek….I mean, guy, comes into play.
This is just my two cents anyways. I spent most of my week working in Data Warehouse and it is a fresh topic in my heas as I try to get data for schools as I type. Now, I need to polish my skills of finding certain data, and then delivering to teachers & administrators in a positive way to help their students succeed in school.