As we continue to progress in education, one thing that has changed greatly is the way that we recover student performance data and how it can be used. With online learning, we often have a system for scoring assessments and assignments embedded into the software utilized by students, allowing us to more easily use data as a tool to help students. This data can open the door to many opportunities for intervention, conferencing, coaching, motivating, and working with a student body. This data then becomes a tool for recognizing strengths and weaknesses, as well as creating a conversation starter among school staff, parents, and district officials.
Education today can be a challenge for both the students and teachers in the classroom. As performance boards are used to motivate student learning, we recognize that retention of new facts, knowledge, and skills does not happen the same for all learners. Data provides a wonderful avenue for working with specific standards and honing in on the areas that students may need extra support in. By understanding exactly where a student is falling behind, a teacher can swoop in and attempt to “bridge the gap.”
It is no secret that most teachers need more support in the classrooms. More often than not we see crammed labs or learning environments where one educator is spread extremely thin: working the room to meet the needs of all of his/her students that are performing on a spectrum of ability levels. Not all districts are able to provide a co-teach model in these instances. The solution to this situation can be as simple as using data to provide peer tutoring for groups of struggling learners.
Students, who outperform others in specific assessments/assignments, can work with small groups or partner pairs to share strategies and converse about the ways that they were successful in mastering the content. Dashboards, and other reports within a learning management system, can help an educator compare the progress and mastery of students to their fellow peers within a unit, topic, or lesson within a course. When grouped or paired properly, this allows top performers to encourage their peers to try again at failed attempts within the same activities.
Data provides an opportunity to speak in very matter-of-fact statements and removes opinion or bias from a situation/conversation revolving around student performance. Comparisons can be made with percentages of progress made by other students to show growth or lack thereof. That being said, data can be used to buffer the frequently dreaded task, parent conferencing. With the data provided by diagnostic assessments, quizzes, assignments, and activities taking place in an online learning environment, teachers have a paper trail of numbers that speak volumes in sticky situations. Administration can also monitor data in this way to find ways to support staff, promote student growth, set realistic goals, and share accomplishments and achievements at the school level as well as district-wide progress.