Using Spring Testing Data for Back to School Planning
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 certain classes or periods top- or bottom-heavy?
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. Depending on their age and maturity, it could be worth organizing the data in a way palatable for the students that yields insights that can help your students plan for the year ahead--with your guidance, of course.
Compare grades to scores
Students often excel in class but struggle on standardized tests, or vice versa. Identifying such students early can help you work together to come up with a plan to improve whichever aspect was lacking last year in a systematic way.
Book time with the learning coach early
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 find skills with which your students may need in-depth help and then be one of the first to book time on your coach’s calendar for some lessons and strategies that you can use 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. But the best time to organize these groups is before school starts, which is why this early data study can be so valuable.