Using Data to Support Instructional Practice

We're taking a hard look at data at our school. We have stockpiled so many different sources of data, internal and external, formative and summative and we're all trying to come to grips with it. At our team meeting yesterday, we started to share our assessment practices and whether we allowed a retest, and I realized that no one had collected any data to support whether or not retests were helping student acheivement or merely a method of grade inflation, shielding student's poor study skills from their parents.

I had a skype chat yesterday with a data and curriculum coordinator from the biggest international school in southeast asia and she assures me that every teacher can collect data to help support instructional practices. We need to do it. Seldom teachers do. However, she made a good comparison: "There are lucky schools whose students acheive highly but the teachers don't know why, and leading schools which are schools that know exactly why their students achieve what they do."

Something I do in math is offer a practice test before a final test or project based assessment. Is this effective? I took a look at the data of practice test score and wondered how many students increased from the practice test to their final test, how many stayed the same, and how many decreased. This was the data:

Pretty overwhelming. Of my 47 math students, 39 had shown improvement. Some had flat lined and some had decreased. Does the data support the hypothesis that this is a good practice? I think so.

I asked my students last year in an end of the year survey to say which method of instruction helped them learn the most. This was the result:

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