Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Using Data to Guide Improvement
Take your pick:
Using Data to Guide Improvement

Using Data to Guide Improvement

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students examine the connection between student data and teacher evaluation.

See More

Like what you're learning?

Teacher Evaluation and Assessment

Take the whole course from Capella University FOR FREE


Source: Image light, Public Domain,; Image of magnifying glass/paper, Public Domain, ; Image of a survey/checklist, Public Domain,

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Welcome, I'm Tricia Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we'll look at the topic titled, using data to guide improvement. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives, and we'll use the following questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. What is the connection between student data and teacher evaluation? How can we use this student data to guide instructional improvement action plans?

Let's start out by discussing data and evaluation. As teachers we know the importance of data-- gathering data, examining data, and using data. It helps guide our teaching, our reflecting, and our students' learning. Data drives many teacher evaluation models. Student growth is an essential piece of this data, and this is factored in to our final effectiveness ratings as teachers.

We also use data throughout the entire process of the school year as a point to review and compare. Are our students making progress? Are they moving towards proficiency? We can use formative assessment data, summative assessment data, and standardized assessment data when looking at these questions.

As teachers, our valuation model might consist of us having to establish learning goals or targets for our students that will be monitored as part of our evaluation process. We can analyze our effectiveness levels as teachers and set goals for improvement from this data. It's not just the teacher responsible for reviewing and using this data however. Teacher and collaborative team, such as maybe a critical friends group, and the teacher and evaluator can all review data together and examine various situations throughout the year.

So what is the importance of student data in teacher evaluation? Evaluation of teachers helps insure that our students have access to the most highly qualified and effective teachers. The end goal here is for us as teachers to ensure that our students are achieving. As a result of this need, teacher evaluation models include student data, both reviewing and using this data in the evaluation process.

A variety of data sources can be considered based on the specific evaluation model. Some models may have specific sources to consider and track. These data sources can be used to determine a student's academic growth. We can get an evaluation score from this information.

We will look at the list of possible data sources in just a moment. But first, it's important to understand that it is essential to determine what data will be considered and how a baseline or where your student's level is in the area of focus connected to a content and grade will be set for your students. This should be done prior to the beginning of the evaluation process.

Here's a list of some possible sources of data-- student survey data, student standardized assessment data, state assessment data, formative assessment, and summative assessment data, common assessments, student portfolios, and performance tasks. To ensure that you're examining student data effectively, there are some steps that will be helpful. Let's talk about the steps in examining student data.

First, it's important to establish the baseline that your students have. This is an area that you will be monitoring for student growth. In this baseline should be the entry level skill or proficiency that you are focusing on.

Upon establishing the baseline, a decision must be made on the frequency of data review. How frequently will you review this data? Targets for students based upon their baselines may need to be set depending on your specific evaluation model. These targets are learning goals for your students that are based on this data.

For example, a target might be that a student will move to proficient level on all components of the schoolwide writing rubric by the end of the year. Maybe a baseline writing prompt is given to students at the beginning. And from this prompt, we learn that 25% are substantially below proficient, 50 are below proficient, and 25 are proficient. From this data, you might choose to establish a target or goal for each student to move up one proficiency level by the end of the year based upon this baseline.

The targets in student's progress should be closely monitored. Support should be given more needed, and a timeline is essential here. This timeline should be set to determine when we would review data. What points along the way? After certain units or specific amounts of time?

When reviewing this ongoing data, it should be noted when students are reaching or exceeding these learning targets based on these established timelines. As we then use the data, we can determine which interventions or opportunities for enrichment we should focus on for each of our students. We can use the following questions to guide this part of the process.

Use them for yourself as well as your students. How is my instruction helping students reach their targets? What about my instruction is getting in the way? And how can I change my instruction to meet the needs of all my students?

Let's walk through an example. For step one, we establish the baseline. Students are given a reading assessment for basic letter recognition at the start of their kindergarten year. 60% of our students recognized all of their letters, lowercase and uppercase. And 40% did not yet know all of the letters. Of this 40%, students on average new 15 out of 26 letters.

Step two is determining how frequently we'll review this data. Because we're starting the year and letter recognition is so essential to our students' growth in other areas, we need to assess and monitor often, let's say, as this teacher would decide to do a weekly assessment for students that have not yet mastered letter recognition. Now we need to set targets for each student based upon their baseline. This teacher looks at her evaluation model and sets learning targets for each student based on the typical progression of letter recognition. She develops this system to track which letters the student will be working on next.

As this teacher reviews the ongoing data, she should note when students are not reaching or when they're exceeding these learning targets based upon established timelines. And she can use this data to determine which interventions are opportunities for enrichment. She should focus on with this group of students and individual students in particular.

Let's now explore the steps in establishing an improvement plan. After answering and having all of your students answer these questions we just spoke about, it would be helpful to use the PDSA-- or Plan, Do, Study, Act-- cycle to establish an improvement plan. Plan-- what is my goal?

Do-- what actions in instruction will I implement and for what period of time? Here it may prove to be beneficial to review the various instructional domains of your own teacher evaluation tool or professional teaching standards or both. To align your plan to these also review past feedback regarding instructional strategies from your coaches and evaluator.

The S is study. How will I evaluate the impact of my changes? When will I evaluate the impact of my changes? And the last part of the cycle is Act. Adjust the plan if the goals are not being met.

Talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following two questions-- what is the connection between student data and teacher evaluation? And how can we use this student data to guide instructional improvement action plans.

In today's lesson, we talked about the importance of data. Student growth is an essential piece to data, and this is factored in to our final effectiveness ratings as teachers. We also use data throughout the entire process and school year as a point of review and comparison. We looked at some steps to take in order to examine student data as well as the steps to take in order to effectively use the data examined to develop improvement plans.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider a time that you have gathered and used student data. What did this process look like for you? Are there any steps we discussed today that would have bettered that process for you?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, using data to guide improvement. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas about student data and using that data to your own teaching. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Using Data to Guide Improvement”


(00:00- 00:25) Introduction/Objectives

(00:26- 01:41) Data and Evaluation 

(01:42- 03:01) Student Data and Teacher Evaluation

(03:02- 06:12) Steps: Examining Data and Example

(06:13- 07:09) Steps: Establishing Improvement Plans

(07:10- 07:51) Recap

(07:52- 08:34) Reflection 

Additional Resources

This article examines best practices in reviewing student data to guide and improve student learning. In addition, the article includes some practices in use by states in the Southern region of the US.

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making

This guide includes tables, exemplars, and best practices for using student data individually and as a learning community to improve student achievement and instructional practices.