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Data Issues

Chelsea Force

EDC 257 M4A2

June 23, 2018

When a student completes an assignment, turns in a project, finishes a standardized test,

or answers a question in class, they are providing student data. Student data is the information,

scores, and results of the work they have done in school. To address a student’s needs, teachers

must gather, access, manage, and utilize student data. However, teachers have countless ways to

accomplish these tasks. Teachers can align their instruction with goals, evaluate learner progress

against content standards, hold Data Talks and create Data Notebooks, implement new

Classroom Response Systems, and use online servers. Knowledge of various strategies allows

teachers to tailor strategies to their preferences and their students’ needs.

When a teacher aligns their instruction and assessment with learning goals they can

examine a student’s “degree of success” (Burden & Byrd, 2015, p. 297). This alignment is also

crucial when preparing a test, and the relation between instruction, assessment, and learning

goals is highlighted using a table of specifications. A table of specifications “identifies intended

outcomes of instruction” (Burden & Byrd, p. 297). Once you identify outcomes, which should

include objectives, a teacher can create a test that emphasizes the instruction. A teacher can then

determine how many questions should be focused on each objective. When deciding on

assessments other than tests, teachers will use the learning goals to make the right decision.

When the learning goals require a higher domain of thinking, the assessment must incorporate

higher levels. Evaluating learner progress against content standards is also crucial for students’

success. If students are not meeting content standards, they will not build the necessary

foundation for their current class or for years to come. By evaluating the progress against the

standards weaknesses can be addressed, and instruction can be personalized for each student.

Also, a teacher can assess their own instructional plan and can identify which standards need to

be reinforced.

Data Talks and Data Notebooks involve students in their own learning, motivate them to

reach goals, help students understand academic language, encourage them to work on individual

needs, and creates an inspired classroom environment (Power, 2012). A Data Talk is where a

teacher presents data from assessments to their students, either individually or in a group, and

compares the data to previous results, goals, and grade-level standards. The data can be based on

class averages in a group setting or on independent scores for individuals. By presenting this data

directly to students they become active in their own learning process. Students can now identify

and analyze their own needs in the classroom and can practice skills they have not yet mastered.

When students know the specific details about their progress, and can see the exact steps for

improvement, they are able to visualize their goals and attain them. Students will use academic

language in the context of these talks and become familiar with terms that will be used to assess

them throughout their schooling. For whole class Data Talks, students can challenge one another

and celebrate together when goals are reached. In Mrs. Graves 2nd grade class, for example, the

students cheered when their class averages were revealed. In each area the class either met their

goal or exceeded it (Lucio, 2010). The positive feedback these students gave one another

encourages success, and motivates students to not only succeed as individuals, but also as a team.

However, facilitating Data Talks and dedicating time to use Data Notebooks takes time

away from classroom instruction. A student at Sue Cleveland Elementary School explains that

for Math the students receive graded work every Monday, which they will then graph in their

Data Notebooks (SCEPBIS, 2013). While this might be manageable for elementary students who

have the same teacher for all subjects, there might not be enough time per class in secondary

schools. In addition, these strategies will most likely work best if adopted by all teachers in a

grade level so that students have a comprehensive set of data for all subjects. Unless Data

Notebooks are required by administrators, teachers might be unwilling to take on the extra work.

For whole class Data Talks, some students who are struggling might blame themselves for not

meeting a goal, or for lower scores. While sharing data is meant to motivate students, the lower

performing students could become discouraged and take class results personally. High stakes

testing is already a controversial issue, and the pressure that comes from Data Talks could be

considered too much for students.

Classroom Response Systems (CRS), such as clickers or apps like Poll Everywhere, are

hardware and software which allow teachers to pose multiple-choice questions that each student

can answer with a handheld transmitter (Bruff, 2010, para. 2). The software then collects the

answers and produces a bar chart that can be presented to the class. Teachers can instantly

identify where to start instruction to address the needs of their students. A CRS will encourage

active participation by maintaining students’ attention, promoting discussion, involving all

students, and addressing the needs of the class (Bruff). Attention is maintained because students

must answer the questions to receive points, whether those points are for correct answers or

participation will also affect how focused students will remain. Students can collaborate before

answering questions and discuss them once results are revealed using a CRS. Even those

students who normally dread answering questions out loud will be actively participating thanks

to the anonymity of the system. Additionally, once the teacher knows how well their students

understand the material they can address only what the class needs and eliminate unnecessary

repetition. Although a CRS can be a powerful tool, there are those who might not actively

participate because of the system. Students may simply select answers at random if the points are

not graded on correctness, which skews the instant data and will not promote discussion. Also,

students could become bored of the routine, and become disengaged whenever the CRS is used.

Like any other strategy, teachers must use the CRS to engage students.

Accessing and managing student data is crucial for teachers to assess their students’

progress and the effectiveness of their own instruction. Collecting and analyzing student data

helps teachers “adapt curriculum to students’ specific levels” (Segre, 2014, para. 4). When data

is collected and managed throughout a student’s academic career teachers can identify strengths

and weaknesses, see improvements, and then individualize the teaching strategies that will help a

child succeed. However, student data is now mostly online, and families worry about how this

data is stored, shared, and protected. In most cases, schools use third party cloud providers like

Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to store data on their servers (Segre). Storing data on a cloud

provider causes fear for privacy. Many believe marketers can gain access to student data and

target students as consumers. Another concern is data breaches, which could release sensitive

information such as Social Security numbers onto unsecured web servers. Finally, student data

will follow a student to each class, and may cause teachers to judge them or make assumptions

before they even meet. If a student was once a trouble maker, or unfairly judged by a previous

teacher, the data will not allow a student to start anew. Since student data is necessary for

teachers to help their class reach their full potential, educators must learn how to properly protect

student data. Using FERPA compliant companies, reading the fine print on agreements, and

being aware of bias are all necessary aspects of managing student data.


Bruff, D. (2010). Classroom Response Systems (Clickers). Retrieved from


Burden, P. R., & Byrd, D. M. (2015). Methods for effective teaching: Meeting the needs of all
students (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Lucio, J. (2010). MAP Goal Setting (5:27). Retrieved from


Power, M. (2012). NWEA Map Goal Setting introduction (3:23). Retrieved from

SCEPBIS (2013). Sue Cleveland Students Discussing Data Notebooks (4:05). Retrieved from

Segre, F. (2014). What's really at stake? Untangling the big issues around student data.
Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/35439/whats-really-at-stake-untangling-