Don’t Doubt The Data

by | Apr 20, 2018


The goal, in any field, is to do the best job that one can given the tools at their disposal. In order to improve upon instructional strategies, it is critical to determine the basis of all academic, behavioral, and social-emotional growth for students.

Research in general is driven by the desire to prosper or succeed and is rooted in objective data collection and analysis. Why should education be any different?

Data can be useful in all areas of the educational field and it will directly influence performance from the individual level and on through the systems levels. Understanding the potential of accurate and reliable data collection gives administrators, educators, and students the opportunity to thrive.

Remembering that data is the driving force behind all academic, behavioral, and social-emotional decision-making in the classroom, we can determine where data is effective and how it can be used to guide progress. It is crucial to recognize that data affects all students, teachers, and administrators, leaving no one out of the equation. In addition, the diverse roles that are developing today only leave room for the more elaborate application of data collection. 


As the direct instructional source, teachers are expected to provide a top-notch educational experience to all students. Between behavior management, standardized test-taking, and the endless academic needs of each student, this is an extensive undertaking, to say the least.

How does one person do it all? The answer is: Let the data do it instead.

Accurate and reliable data collection at the classroom level can support the development of:

  • A nurturing classroom environment
  • Positive classroom management
  • Increased rates of student engagement
  • Well-maintained tiered instructional supports

The data is right there at the fingertips of all educators, you simply have to want to see it. Data comes in many forms, taking on the appearance of student records, exit tickets, exams, standardized tests, disciplinary records, pacing calendars, transition times, attendance records, rubrics, homework, and student feedback. This data is meant to support classroom needs. It should be referenced when developing seating charts, comparing individual student performance with peers, determining student placements, creating schedules, pairing students and so much more. When combined, these often subtle applications serve to create an influential educational environment.


Students are surrounded by an abundance of data.

Similar to teachers, data for students can be found in homework feedback, attendance records, disciplinary records, test scores, student groupings, classroom visuals, and far more. You simply have to look for it.

The question educators should be asking themselves is, “How much of this information is directly shared and discussed with the students?

 Somewhere, during the transition through the education system, responsibility for success transfers from the teacher to the student. It is critical that educators are providing students with the knowledge and resources necessary to make this transition successful.

How can one be expected to improve if one is not aware of their deficits? This would be like expecting a server at a restaurant to bring you the perfect meal without any knowledge of what you like to eat. In both scenarios, the outcome would only be as good as your best guess. Why guess when we have a surplus of data to analyze and implement for the optimal outcome?

Often, it is left up to the student to seek additional support. However, it is the responsibility of the educators to ensure students are aware of their current levels of performance and, when help is needed, ensuring they have the capacity to know when, how, and where to ask for help. When given the knowledge that data outputs provide, our awareness of personal performance will greatly impact our student’s achievement. If your classroom or school is experiencing a delay in collecting, analyzing, understanding or implementing data-driven decisions,