Teaching with Data

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

Posts Tagged ‘Education’

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.

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