Teaching with Data

Ruminating on effective ways to use data to guide instruction in the classroom and other topics.

Archive for the ‘ICEL’ Category

Parents and Data

Posted by LAUSD Secondary Literacy/ELA on November 13, 2011

This past spring I worked with a team to develop a data-based instruction website, targeting specific stakeholder groups: teachers, administrators, counselors, students, and parents.  The goal of the website is to consolidate, as much as possible, data resources  that can help each stakeholder group determine student needs in order to make the best curriculum, instructional, and school decisions. When designing the parent/family member page , we really had to think about what kind of data parents have access to, and more importantly, what data will help them make the best academic decisions for their children.

In my district, over 70% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. We have parents who have a limited education and limited English skills; however, our parents are dedicated to finding the best options for their children. So in thinking about data, I am currently ruminating on how to best educate our parents on how to have conversations with their children’s teachers based on data:

  • How do parents AND teachers use data to identify a child’s difficulty?
  • How do parents AND teachers use the data to determine why this child is having difficulty?
  • How do parents AND teachers use the data to determine the instruction/intervention that could be effective and appropriate for this child?
  • How do parents AND teachers use the data to monitor if the instruction/intervention is working? And if it isn’t working, how do parents AND teachers use the data to determine why?

I know that parents do not have to be involved in every detail of an instructional or intervention plan; however, the point is that they should always be involved in the discussion, which should always include data.

I worked with parent representatives from secondary schools who embraced these questions. But there is one question that I did not include above that I did discuss with the parent representatives: How is my child doing compared to the other students in the class? This question is the one that can make teachers feel the most  uncomfortable: If only 50% of the students are earning a C or better in the class, it is not an individual student issue. This issue is what we in the RtI (Response to Instruction and Intervention) world call a Tier 1 issue: under 80% of the class is not meeting the benchmark; therefore, the issue needs to be addressed within the core instruction, not just with one student. The problem could be in the Iinstruction, Curriculum, or the  Environment–ICE (see post dated 7-14-11).

The point is that parents should see class data to gain a better perspective of their child’s issue in relationship to the whole class. Teachers can show data results for the entire class by masking the other student names, or using various data displays, i.e., bar graphs, pie charts, etc. Parents have a right to know how their students are doing in respect to other students in the class and in the school. Without this data, they have no “authentic” way to measure how their child is performing.

So how would I help parents understand the data?

  • If  a school does an orientation for parents and students, I would prepare school data packets for the parents, and in a workshop, explain the data and discuss what it reflects about the school.
  • In a teacher professional development, I would present ways to discuss student data with parents, including having teachers role play with each other as parent and teacher.
  • I would provide workshops for parents before the Parent Conference Night on how to read the data, discuss the data with a teacher, and how to make decisions based on the data. In fact, I would probably hold these workshops just before each grading period.
  • I would encourage my principal to schedule regular “data chats” with parents to discuss district, school, and department/grade level data.
If you have stuck with me through this entire post, thank you for reading along while I try to answer this question. If you have any comments, or any other ideas, I would really be interested in reading about them.

Posted in Data, ICEL, Response to Instruction and Intervention | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The problem is occurring because…

Posted by LAUSD Secondary Literacy/ELA on July 14, 2011

Group members first decided which "reasons" they have no control over (can't change). Then they organized their hypotheses into categories: Instruction/Curriculum/Environment/Learner. After doing this step, they chose their top three (stars).


This group took their cue from another teacher in the class. Yesterday John stated that if you first look at your problem residing in the Learner, then you will get "lice."

This group chose their top three hypotheses, rewrote them and then also attached their prediction statements.

I and another facilitator have been working with twelve amazing educators in a Professional Development titled, “Using Data to Target Instruction and Intervention in English Language Arts.” These posters reflect the work we have been doing when working in step two of the Problem Solving Process: Problem Analysis.  The teachers were working with the Affinity Protocol as described in the book Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning.

Protocols provide a structure in which a group can have a constructive conversation around an issue and/or data.  This particular protocol that the teachers used is very effective in getting all the ideas out “on the table,” removing the ideas that are out of their control, categorizing the ideas, and then finally, choosing the top three.

In this training, teachers were working in the Problem Solving Process (Response to Instruction and Intervention) to determine what was causing the problem (hypothesis) they had earlier identified by analyzing various data reports. Once they had brainstormed their ideas about why the problem was occurring and isolated the ideas that they knew they could not change, they categorized their ideas  under four domain headings: Instruction, Curriculum, Environment, and Learner (ICE + L). These domains reflect “where the hypotheses live.” Categorizing this way, helps teachers to be more targeted in their intervention design.  When trying to determine why the problem is happening, we encourage teachers to look at the other domains–Instruction,Curriculum,Environment–before stating the problem is with the Learner.  Yesterday in the training, John commented that if you put the “L” first you have lice; therefore, if you go to the Learner first, you will have “lice.” The third poster illustrates John’s idea. Of course, the hypotheses they eventually chose, did not focus the problem on the learner, so they avoided the lice problem.

Before this training I had never used the Affinity Protocol. Now I am a total convert. After introducing and explaining it to the teachers, they started working. I was a little worried in the beginning because they didn’t seem to be brainstorming as quickly as I expected; however, my worrying was premature. Within five minutes the conversations started, the post-its started multiplying, and they were fully engaged with the task. My partner and I just took pictures, listened in on their conversations, answered question,s and made comments when asked. It was a facilitator’s dream!

Posted in Collaboration, Data, ICEL, Problem Solving Process, Response to Instruction and Intervention | Leave a Comment »