Jim Knight and Michael Faggella-Luby’s article in the April 2022 issue of the Learning Forward Journal, The Learning Professional, confronts the negative associations many educators have with the word “data.” These negative associations with data often rise from districts and schools focusing on standardized test scores over actual learning, and if and when teachers are actually presented with data, it’s often too late to change anything to help students improve and both teacher and student morale suffer as a result.
However, Jim and Michael make the case that data is often misused and misunderstood. If used well, data can help teachers see their students’ needs more clearly, accelerate their professional learning, and even foster hope. The full article examines the crucial data rules listed below and describes the different kinds of helpful data coaches and teachers can gather.
- Teachers should choose the types of data to collect and analyze.
- Measures must be valid.
- Data gathering should be reliable.
- Coaches and teachers should prioritize objective over subjective data.
- Data is more useful when it is gathered frequently.
- Data should be easy to gather.
- Data is most powerful when teachers are involved in gathering it.
Kinds of Data to Gather
- Big Ideas
- Behavioral Engagement
- Cognitive and Emotional Engagement
- Teacher Questions
- Teacher Talk
“All data is imperfect, and none of the forms of data discussed here is without limitations. However, moving forward with a little bit of light is better than moving forward in darkness. Data fosters student learning and well-being, guides teachers’ professional learning, and builds hope. Data is not a dirty word — just the opposite. When coaches partner with teachers and gather data effectively, data is powerful, positive, and empowering.”