Using Spring Testing Data for Back to School Planning

Jun 20, 2024
Spring testing data Edmentum article

One of the first things you should look at when planning your first few weeks of school is last year’s testing data from your incoming students. Although the summer brain drain is real, that data is still your best option for assessing the abilities of your students before you get to see said abilities for yourself.

Here are some things to keep in mind during your data study:

Are Classes Balanced?

Aside from the obvious disparity between remedial, traditional, and honors courses, even teachers with only one prep period can feel as though they have more because an unbalanced amount of high or low achievers were scheduled in a particular class. It happens. But you want to make sure you are aware of it before you start wondering why 2nd period is moving so much quicker than the other classes and have plans for differentiation ready.

Prepare to Share

Students often don’t see granular results from the previous year’s testing. Organize data from summative test results in ways that are easily understood by students. Sharing testing data with students in a constructive manner can help them understand their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth, allowing you to create an effective learning plan with them for the year ahead.

Consider the following approaches:

  • Create individualized student data reports that highlight their performance across different subject areas and skills. Present the data in a visually appealing format using charts, graphs, or color-coding to make it more accessible.
  • Organize one-on-one conferences with students to review their data reports. Guide them in setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for the upcoming school year based on their areas of need.
  • Facilitate small group discussions where students can share their data insights and learn from each other's experiences. Encourage them to identify common challenges and brainstorm strategies to overcome them as a team.
  • Develop an anonymized class-wide data wall or display where the class can collectively track their progress throughout the year.

Compare Grades to Scores

Some students can excel in class but struggle on standardized tests, and vice versa. Comparing students' course grades with their standardized test scores from the previous year can uncover valuable insights into their learning strengths and areas for improvement, and help you work together to come up with a plan to improve whichever aspect was lacking last year in a systematic way.

Create a visual representation that highlights any significant discrepancies between classroom performance and test results. For those who struggle on standardized tests, explore potential factors like test anxiety, time management issues, or gaps in specific skills covered on the exams. Conversely, for those who perform well on tests but have lower grades, investigate reasons such as incomplete assignments, difficulties with hands-on projects, or challenges with classroom engagement.

Book Time With a Learning Coach

If you are lucky enough to have a learning coach, you know how busy they can be and how hard it can be to book time with them. Taking a broad look at your student data can help you discover specific skills that students need help addressing. Work with a learning coach as soon as possible for lessons and strategies to get the school year started right.

Organize Effective PLCs

Professional learning communities (PLCs) organized by grade level or location serve their purposes but wouldn’t it be great to collaborate with teachers whose students are facing the same struggles as yours? These meetings can go into specific strategies tailored for the needs of your students while also giving your learning coach an opportunity to address a wider audience, saving time. However, the best time to organize these groups is before school starts, which is why this early data study can be so valuable.

Want to learn more about empowering students to take ownership of their data and drive their own growth? Check out our guide on Helping Students Use Their Own Assessment Data for Growth.

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