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To continue improving our teaching craft, we must come to the realization that teaching content through random classroom activities and assessing students solely on the regurgitation of content through recall questions will not prepare our students for their post-secondary lives. That is why Core 4 All advocates for a standards-based approach to teaching using the Common Core State Standards and the implementation of professional learning teams that review student data through common formative assessments that measure students’ proficiency of key skills. Successful professional learning teams use common formative assessment data to drive instructional decisions. All of the data talk in education makes some people weary and others wary. However, this past quarter I have experimented with sharing student performance data with students and have witnessed the positive effect on learning as a result.
Providing students with meaningful data
Part of my teaching load is teaching English 1. At the beginning of the quarter, I decided I would monitor student progress on 3 standards. I created a 4-point hybrid (reading/writing) literacy rubric that focused on the 9th and 10th grade Common Core State Standards of identifying central theme, providing evidence and supplying reasoning with literary text. I gave a pre-assessment to get a base-line measurement of where the proficiency levels are with these skills and charted the results. I shared results of the pre-assessment with my students by showing them their individual chart. I literally walked around the room while they were working on an activity and showed them their charts. Then, we discussed our quarterly goal (scoring a three on the rubric). Throughout the quarter I focused on this goal consistently. I immediately noticed the students were not performing to expectations. So, in Schmoker-style instruction (FOCUS), we created a class model of what the writing should look like and coded it by claim, evidence and reasoning. All students copied the model on a bright pink piece of paper and I also supplied a typed copy for the students. Everyone now had a clear exemplar of expectations. We continued to work on these specific literacy skills, among others, throughout the quarter using Romeo and Juliet as our literary text. We wrote often with the same reading analysis and writing expectations. One day, without prompting from me, many students took out the bright pink piece of paper with the model paragraph and used it as a scaffold while writing.
Throughout, the quarter, I saw growth but kept a steady eye on students who were “flat-lined” either below, at, or above proficiency. Near the end of the quarter right before the post-assessment I shared each student’s individual data chart with them. The student response was overwhelmingly positive, even with students who were struggling. The clear-cut visual of where they stood on skills encouraged them to work harder and students who had the “perfect upward trend” were very proud and excited. In addition to empowering students, I now have specific knowledge on where each student is in terms of skill progression. Not just grades, vague ideas and behavioral comments, but hard evidence of the proficiency of the skills being learned in class.
Data should not be a secret for students, but rather used as a tool to guide instruction and motivate student progress. When done effectively using data to make instructional decisions is empowering for teachers. But, using data to empower students to improve learning is just as great.
I encourage you to choose a target goal this last quarter of the school year and create a pre/post-assessment and show the results to the students. Model the skill, provide guided practice, group practice and individual practice, and chart results with the students. Then post-assess and see what happens. Share your insights with us!
We would like to thank those educators who have purchased Implementing the Common Core e-book. We hope you are finding it a valuable resource revitalizing your curriculum. We also would love to hear your feedback and perhaps any questions or comments you may have. We also would like to know how you have been using our blog posts in your instruction. Your comments may provide us with a spark for future posts. You may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we have said before, Core 4 All consists of 4 educators who work with students on a daily basis. We are not professional researchers, but rather teachers who teach, who care for their students and care about their futures.