3 Ways to Use Student Assessment Data

Oct 26, 2023
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Formative and summative assessments are important in shaping a student’s education, offering valuable insights into their progress and understanding.

Educators can leverage the data obtained from assessments throughout the school year to tailor their teaching approaches, identify areas of improvement, and provide targeted support to ensure student success. Below are ways that fall formative assessments and spring summative assessments can foster an environment of continuous growth and learning.

Three Ways to Use Formative Assessment Data

A few weeks into the new school year, teachers have administered their first set of benchmark tests and a variety of other formative assessments with their students. Now that there is a good amount of student data available, how should teachers use this information to their full advantage?

1. Forecast Intervention Needs

While it may seem like the school year just started, it’s never too early to begin planning for next semester’s intervention, credit recovery programs, or formative assessments. Plan ahead to support students before they fall behind.

Use assessment data to identify students who are struggling now and those who may need intervention or to retake a course next semester. These six tips for effective intervention programs can be helpful to kickstart planning.

2. Optimize Lesson Plans

Using data to drive instruction is a solid educational practice for teachers and administrators. Look at the data and ask:

  • Where did students fall short in the curriculum?
  • Is there a particular concept or lesson that didn’t show much retention on the formative assessments?

Staying impartial when looking at the data is key. It is perfectly acceptable to see that a lesson didn’t go as well as intended—it’s all a part of the learning process. Wondering how to save time while lesson planning? Read these top five time-saving lesson-planning tips for teachers.

3. Discover Grant Opportunities

When classroom funds are limited, educators can look into grant opportunities that fund creative ideas designed to help content resonate with students and/or provide students with opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. Student assessment data can be provided to make a case or elevate proposed ideas when applying for these educational grants.

Edmentum offers some guidance on educational grant opportunities. Check out our resources for applying to grants or our list of literacy initiative grants to get started.

Three Ways to Use Summative Assessment Data

In the spring semester, teachers are likely swimming in student data and feeling the pinch of summative assessments approaching soon. Where do they start? What data points should be looked at for instructional planning during these final months?

Below are three strategic areas for data-driven decision-making in the spring to help teachers focus their attention and move the needle on student performance through year-end.

1. Focus Reinforcement on On-Grade-Level Essential Standards

All teachers at their core want every student to reach grade-level proficiency by the academic year’s end. With a focus on essential standards (also called priority standards or power standards, depending on the state) students will be equipped with the most critical academic information for ongoing success.

How can this be done? Teachers can start by exploring their state’s summative testing blueprints to determine what priority standards are for a given grade level and subject. Then, turn to their preferred program to see how students are tracking in those areas. For example, in Edmentum’s standards-based practice and formative assessment solution, Study Island, educators can isolate standards gaps and deliver focused practice in those areas.

Educators also have the option of building their own custom assessments to ensure that students can demonstrate success in strategic areas. Learn more about how Study Island can help students master essential standards in this webinar recording.

2. Plan and Deliver Targeted Interventions

Closing skill gaps and focusing on learning acceleration has been a focus for many schools post-pandemic. If this is what is prioritized since the beginning of the school year for students, teachers should use this final push to shore up strategic areas in math and reading that will get students back to grade level.

This is where benchmark or interim assessment data can be most useful to help diagnose specific learning gaps. Use your winter (or spring) assessment window’s data for final recalibrations this school year.

Edmentum’s diagnostic-driven, individualized instruction program, Exact Path, is a great fit for this specific need. Using our computer-adaptive assessment, students can test in school or at home, and teachers will receive immediate actionable data to spot specific skill gaps and learner needs. Each diagnostic scale score is also paired with an immediate individualized learning path that begins where students are ready to start learning—whether that learning is on grade level, below, or above.

Give students the opportunity to work on just what they need so that teacher-directed intervention is focused and relevant. This webinar on mitigating skill gaps in spring with Exact Path has more information.

3. Explore Summer Learning Needs

More states are coming out with plans to expand and extend summer learning opportunities as a means of addressing learning losses during the pandemic. Don’t let students fall victim to the traditional summer slide due to past learning disruptions. The most recent benchmark data can be a good indicator of how far summer programming should extend.

There are also other key planning questions to consider:

  • Will summer school only be available to learners who are struggling the most?
  • Will broader summer learning opportunities be extended to all?
  • Will summer learning occur in person, or will flexible virtual programming be warranted?
  • In addition to core academic subjects, should summer learning focus on mental health and wellness?

When responding to these questions and others, make sure there are proven programs to support the continuum of learning needs that students are experiencing. For example, Edmentum’s Courseware offers accelerate courses in focused five- to nine-week math and ELA sections to help students master essential skills necessary for high school.

Closing out the school year strong is within reach. Having the right tools to inform data-driven instruction is critical to set students up for success in summer and the following fall. Assessment programs like Exact Path and Study Island are here to help educators with their formative and summative assessment needs.

Interested in learning how to seamlessly integrate assessments into your teaching? Explore our article on Formative Assessment in the Classroom: What It Is & How to Use It. Learn how to use ongoing feedback to tailor your instruction and support your students' growth every step of the way.

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