Do you know 'Data' in Schools?
What is Data in Schools?
According to Cambridge dictionary a data is defined by
1).“information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help in decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer”.
2)“information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help with making decisions”.
The definition highlights the words information, facts, collected, examined and used to help with making decisions. And these words reflect clearly what we do with data. However, there are some questions that would shed some light on data and the process of compiling data.
Where do we get data from?
What is the basic step of collecting data? What accounts for data in a school?
What are the uses of data in a school?
How is data complementary to teaching?
To begin with, the first contact of data for teachers is the scores of assessment; diagnostic, formative or summative in nature. Upon analyzing these scores teachers can identify areas of strengths or concerns, progress or attainment of students. The first step in analysis of data is to derive statistical information, from the scores of assessment, that is to find mean, median and mode. This analysis would provide basic information to build on it further. To reiterate, it would provide answers to ask more questions. An inquisitive teacher would not look for answers but would pose more questions from data. And thus, the cyclical process begins.
Should one rely only on student outcome data? Or Is there any other area to explore to find more data to support and plan various steps in the process of teaching and learning?
The word data in a school has some specific references and it emerges from analyzing various pieces of information available to teachers.
In schools, data could be categorized into four main types.
Demographic data: It refers to every piece of information about pupils for e.g; age, gender, family-single parent, family income, culture, etc.
Assessment(learning) data: It comprises of assessments: diagnostic, summative, formative or data from standardized tests.
Instructional data: It refers to modifying teachers’ practices & pedagogies on the basis of available data. It also refers to identifying interventions and academic needs of learners and how to alter teaching strategies and pedagogies to suit the needs of learners. It works in contrast to pupils’ adaptation of a teacher’s style of teaching.
Perception data: It refers to what does the student, parent, teachers and the community think of learning environment of a school.
Some common uses of data in a school:
1. To track pupils’ engagement, progress attainment.
2. To inform planning, teaching and learning.
3.To identify pupils at risk, to provide further support/ extension (underachievers, SEND and G&T)
4. To set individual targets.
5.To compare progress between groups/ subjects/ individuals/ schools/ nationally and internationally.
Some common uses of data at the classroom level:
1. To reflect upon whether or not the objectives have been met or has the success criteria been achieved or not.
2. To identify weaker group or individual pupils.
3.To identify areas of development in topics for the class as a whole.
4.To identify understanding of posed questions by analyzing responses.
5. To inform targets for individual pupils. 6. To provide evidence to take informed judgments.