The Data Talk

By. Teresa Marchant

I told my daughter I needed to write a blog post about using data wisely. She immediately replied, “make sure to tell them about unlimited data! “I laughed, but then realized that she may have a point. Even though she thought I was talking about her cell phone usage, having multiple data points is a valuable part of data collection. You may also remember my post on bodily fluids, that is also another consideration to ensuring “clean” data, literally!

Two very important issues: collecting and storing data.

First, Savvy educators have more than one data point. This gives you a well rounded and more accurate information regarding your students. Common data collections may include academics, attendance, and behavior.

Academics- Typically schools administer assessments are given at least three times a year. However, having monthly progress monitoring is valuable.  It breaks down the concepts into smaller chunks and can assist you in determining interventions and instruction.

Attendance- Most districts need to collect this type of data for funding. It typically includes tardies, absences, and parent contact. For example, I had a student miss my reading class every Wednesday for three weeks. Come to find out the student had a recurring appointment.  After discussing my concerns with the parents, we found a solution.

Behavior- If your school tracks write up and discipline can help to see trends. You can discuss your findings in PLCs. It can lead to questions such as hunger, too long of a period without breaks, or how transitions are handled if you are seeing a spike in writeups.

Next, when analyzing data I often think about my college stats class and the name of the required textbook “How to Lie with Statistics”.  It is important to understand fundamental statistics and it may not always be the end all be all. Having an open mind is key.

Storing Data
Lastly, protecting data is just as important as collecting it. In fact, some districts are mandating training because of the risks about leaving data unprotected and may be required by insurance carriers. Unfortunately, phishing (not fishing) can make their way to your school computer through your personal and work email.

Be careful and protect your data by:

  • Setting up Two-factor authentication
  • Check the email address of senders

Let your tech department know if you receive a suspicious email. As we approach the end of the year, some districts use such data for placement. Each data point gives you a piece of the puzzle or the whole picture. I encourage you to learn ways to protect your data and use it wisely to make informed decisions