Do you ever find yourself trying to make sense of all the assessments your students are expected to take, only to end up with more questions (and maybe a headache)? When should they take the assessments? Are they for ALL students or only SOME students? Which teachers can administer them? Which students need testing accommodations, and which accommodations do they need?
As a professional development consultant for Branching Minds, I work with teachers and administrators from all over the country. I frequently get asked how progress monitoring should look at the middle school and high school levels.
Educators are juggling an astonishing number of software platforms to help accomplish the goal of better instruction and student outcomes. When data cannot be easily shared between these platforms, teachers and administrators end up looking in multiple places for the data they need, or, even worse, duplicating their efforts as they try to support their students. Enter DATA INTEROPERABILITY.
Data interoperability refers to the ability of different computer systems to connect and exchange information with one another, in either implementation or accessibility, without restriction. (1)(5) Schools need to align their data practices and create standards that enable better connectivity around the suite of products and tools they use. The data interoperability framework provides the context for identifying and debating interoperability issues to make integration within this complex system easier. (2)
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) supports academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development for all students. The ultimate goal of MTSS is to use data to drive decision-making and improve outcomes for all students. To ensure that students receive the best support possible, it's important to assess their progress throughout the year and report the data to all relevant stakeholders.
One of the most challenging parts of my work as a High School Administrator was coaching my teachers and staff on the importance of making decisions based on assessment data. During my initial one-on-one meetings with my teachers and staff, I would ask them, “What assessment data are you using to drive your decision-making and instruction to meet the needs of your students? Most times, I would get a blank stare, or as my nephew says, I would hear crickets. Other times I would receive a response like this: “I did not need a test to tell me; I just know my students.”
Many educators are aware of the importance of promoting students’ social-emotional skills and how this can be done through well-coordinated and implemented social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and practices. But whether or not these approaches are being implemented effectively and the level of impact they are having on student outcomes can be a bit more difficult to determine.
Many districts and schools are now regularly collecting data assessing students’ social-emotional and behavioral skills. Data from assessments and screeners are typically used to identify students needing additional support. Other pieces of data, such as behavior monitoring or tracking, are commonly used to track the progress students are making toward their goals.
You may have heard the old saying, “Many make decisions by guessing or using their gut. They will be either very lucky or very wrong.” Because of these wise words, educators have worked diligently over the last decade to learn how to obtain, gather, compile, view, analyze and use data to avoid leaving student success to being “very lucky” or “very wrong.”
Within an MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework, educators are asked to collect and understand different data to drive their decision-making process. A successful MTSS implementation will rely on a myriad of data, from screening and progress monitoring assessment data to tier movement and benchmark growth.