Data & AssessmentCool Things to Do Cool Things to Do with DataStart of the School Year Data Activities

Start of the School Year Data Activities

There are many ways you can use data to plan for an oncoming school year. However, here are some crucial steps you can take to maximize the potential of student data and best help your incoming students.

1) Explore What Worked vs. What Didn't Work Last Year.

1) Explore What Worked vs. What Didn't Work Last Year.

Don't guess at what instructional tools worked; use data to better determine what worked (keeping in mind that STAR data should be one of multiple measures to make this determination). See how students performed on the state content standards you taught last year (if your subject wasn't tested by the CST, analyze CSTs with standards you taught from a cross-curricular standpoint).

1a. What Are Possible Strengths and Weaknesses for Our Site?

1a. What Are Possible Strengths and Weaknesses for Our Site?

Run the CST Cluster Scores - Site List for the test(s) your students took (just click Reports and then Pre-Built Reports to find it):

1. Choose last year as Academic Year (this will pull the students who were enrolled in your school last year).

2. Choose last year as Test Year (this applies to when students took the test - note most districts get scores in the summer, often around July).

3. Select Compare to State Min. Prof. as the Report Type. This is extremely important: your site's highest cluster scores are not necessarily your strengths, as cluster difficulty differs, but if you run the report this way you're able to compare your scores to the hundreds of thousands of students in California who scored the minimum scale score (350) to be considered proficient (this will account for clusters' varying difficulties).

Running the report this way (as described above) allows you to attribute highest numbers to likely site strengths and lowest numbers to likely site weaknesses, especially if you see the same trend(s) year after year. Also, remember what was mentioned earlier concerning multiple measures.

Run the Peer Comparison for major common assessments (e.g., cumulative benchmarks administered at multiple sites) administered at the end of the last school year (just open the assessment and click Peer Comparison on its Overview tab), and run it as a site list (e.g., limit your input controls at the top of the report to just the district, and don't narrow them down to a specific site, teacher, or section - not all users have this ability):

1. Compare how your site did overall (as compared to the district as a whole and to other sites, particularly any schools similar to yours).

2. Compare how your site did on content clusters (if no question groups - e.g., content clusters - are showing on the report, it's because the assessment's author hasn't added them - something the author can quickly do by  clicking the assessment's Advanced tab, then Question Groups, then Add from State Clusters, and Save - that's it! ...now all users will see cluster results displayed on the assessment's reports).

3. Compare how your site did on state standards.

Make notes: are there any similar schools you want to contact for ideas on what to do differently, or are there any with which you'd like to share what you did successfully?

If you are based at a high school in California, run CAHSEE - Student List.

1. View the last page/summary.

2. Do the same for other sites and for multiple years and compare the numbers. How does your site compare?

Use surveys to gather student (ideally at the end of the previous year) and/or staff feedback. There are free ways to do this (e.g., Survey Monkey, Google Forms, etc.). Note that free, electronic surveying options will require minimal time compared to hard-copy or email approaches.

You can also use the Illuminate system to administer surveys. See idea #24 in the Cool Things to Do with Answer Sheets lesson for guidance.

1b. What Are Possible Strengths and Weaknesses for Me as a Teacher?

1b. What Are Possible Strengths and Weaknesses for Me as a Teacher?

Do the same thing you did in Step 1a (above), making the same selections, only this time run the CST Cluster Scores - Teacher List (note some districts have disabled this report).

1. Choose last year as Academic Year (this will pull the students who were enrolled in your class last year).

2. Choose last year as Test Year (this applies to when students took the test - note most districts get scores in the summer, often around July).

3. Select Compare to State Min. Prof. as the Report Type. This is extremely important: your highest cluster scores are not necessarily your strengths, as cluster difficulty differs, but if you run the report this way you're able to compare your scores to the hundreds of thousands of students in California who scored the minimum scale score (350) to be considered proficient (this will account for clusters' varying difficulties).

Running the report this way (as described above) allows you to attribute highest numbers to likely strengths and lowest numbers to likely weaknesses, especially if you see the same trend(s) year after year. Also, remember what was mentioned earlier concerning multiple measures.

Do the same thing you did in Step 1a (above), only this time view the Performance Summary rather than the Peer Comparison. The farther you drill-down on the input controls at the top of the report screen (e.g., select a section), the more rows of comparison you will see.

1. Compare how your students did overall (as compared to the district and site as a whole, paying special attention to the "same course' rows).

2. Compare how your students did on content clusters (if no question groups - e.g., content clusters - are showing on the report, it's because the assessment's author hasn't added them - something the author can quickly do by  clicking the assessment's Advanced tab, then Question Groups, then Add from State Clusters, and Save - that's it! ...now all users will see cluster results displayed on the assessment's reports).

3. Compare how your students did on state standards.

Make notes (weak vs. strong areas).

If you are based at a high school, run CAHSEE - Student List.

1. View the last page/summary.

2. Compare your results to site and District results from Step 1a (above). How do your students compare?

As described above, survey your students (at the end of the previous year) and analyze it for feedback.

1c. Talk with Your Colleagues (You're Surrounded by Experts!).

1c. Talk with Your Colleagues (You're Surrounded by Experts!).

Prepare a new “plan of attack” for teaching cluster areas in which you were weaker. Every teacher has his or her favorite standards to teach and areas in which he or she especially excels ...and even the best teachers have some areas that are weaker than others. After viewing the above-mentioned reports and considering other data measures and resources, discuss what is working and what is not. Share (with your colleagues) what is working for you based on the data (i.e., "I have fun teaching this lesson" is not enough to warrant its repetition if it is not helping kids master the standards), and ask your colleagues for guidance in areas you might be struggling. Here are 2 examples of how this dialogue can help:

Example 1

7th Grade English Teacher Fonda Shakespeare: Even though our site shows Literary Analysis as a strength, I'm showing it as a weakness. Is this a strong area for you you, and (if so) do you have any tips or lessons to help me?

7th Grade English Teacher Paige Turner: Since I'm new I can be a little nervous to speak up, but Literary Analysis is a real strength for me. I would love to show you some lesson plans I use for that cluster's standards. Also, I ran my reports for my EL kids and saw almost no difference between them and the rest of the class in this area, so I think my graphic organizers and word card routine will be especially helpful for you.

Example 2

Principal Noah Mydata: Even though our sites have different demographics, I notice your site's highest Algebra I CST cluster was Quadratics and Polynomials. At my site, that is our weakest Algebra I cluster. Could you please tell me what your teachers are doing?

Assistant Principal Mike Alculation: I think it has something to do with our shadow class, but I'm not sure. Let me get you in touch with our Math Department Chair. She does a lot with data and knows a lot about the program. I'll also get you in touch with some teachers who show Quadratics and Polynomials as their strengths. I'm sure they'd be happy to share with your staff ...especially if you show us what you're doing so well with Functions and Rational Expressions. ;-)

Note: You can visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/css05rtq.asp (and look in the introduction of each pertinent Released Test Question link you find there - the match-up will start on Page 2) to see which standards are contained in each cluster.

While clusters are the most specific form in which the state gives us STAR data, using DnA assessments throughout the year will offer formative capabilities that are standard-specific.

2) Prepare for the Incoming Class's Needs.

2) Prepare for the Incoming Class's Needs.

Your incoming students might show a particular cluster as a weakness and another as a strength, particularly if there is a big difference between performance on one cluster versus another. You may opt to use local diagnostic assessments to determine standard strengths and weaknesses, but clusters will be a good (and less intimidating) place to start.

2a. Where Has My Incoming Class Struggled and Excelled in the Past?

2a. Where Has My Incoming Class Struggled and Excelled in the Past?

Do the same thing you did in Step 1a (above), running the CST Cluster Scores - Teacher List, only this time run it for the upcoming year's enrollment (note some districts have disabled this report).

1. Choose the current/upcoming year as Academic Year (this will pull the students who are entering your class).

2. Choose last year as Test Year (this applies to when students took the test - note most districts get scores in the summer, often around July).

3. Select Compare to State Min. Prof. as the Report Type. This is extremely important: your highest cluster scores are not necessarily your strengths, as cluster difficulty differs, but if you run the report this way you're able to compare your students' scores (with the teachers they had before you) to the hundreds of thousands of students in California who scored the minimum scale score (350) to be considered proficient (this will account for clusters' varying difficulties).

Running the report this way (as described above) allows you to attribute highest numbers to likely strengths and lowest numbers to likely weaknesses, especially if you see the same trend(s) year after year. Also, remember what was mentioned earlier concerning multiple measures.

Consider looking at the same information for other reports in the system, in the same manner explained in Step 1b (above).

2b. Might My Pacing and/or Lesson Plans Need Adjustment?

2b. Might My Pacing and/or Lesson Plans Need Adjustment?

The previous step will help you know what adjustments might be necessary. For example, if the incoming class shows an overall lack in Reading Comprehension skills, is there anything you'll need to supplement the curriculum and bring students up to speed?

3) Prepare for Incoming Students' Needs.

3) Prepare for Incoming Students' Needs.

Examining student-specific strengths and weaknesses is a big task to take on, and is more realistic for elementary teachers who have fewer students than secondary teachers do. You might also opt to use local diagnostic assessments to determine standard strengths and weaknesses, but clusters will be a good (and less intimidating) place to start.

3a. Where Has Each Incoming Student Struggled and Excelled in the Past?

3a. Where Has Each Incoming Student Struggled and Excelled in the Past?

Run the CST Cluster Scores - Student List for the test(s) your incoming students took:

1. Choose the current/upcoming year as Academic Year (this will pull the students who are entering your class).

2. Choose last year as Test Year (this applies to when students took the test - note most districts get scores in the summer, often around July).

3. Select Compare to State Min. Prof. as the Report Type. This is extremely important: your highest cluster scores are not necessarily your strengths, as cluster difficulty differs, but if you run the report this way you're able to compare your students' scores (with the teachers they had before you) to the hundreds of thousands of students in California who scored the minimum scale score (350) to be considered proficient (this will account for clusters' varying difficulties).

Running the report this way (as described above) allows you to attribute highest numbers to likely strengths and lowest numbers to likely weaknesses, especially if you see the same trend(s) year after year. Also, remember what was mentioned earlier concerning multiple measures.

Consider looking at the same information for other reports in the system, in the same manner explained in Step 1b (above).

3b. Where Might Each Incoming Student Struggle and Excel on Standards I'm Teaching?

3b. Where Might Each Incoming Student Struggle and Excel on Standards I'm Teaching?

If you have local diagnostic assessment data (e.g., with data for the standards you'll be teaching), you may use the Peer Comparison (run for a section so it displays as a student list) to see each student's performance by any standard the test's author tied to questions, by any cluster the test's author chose to include, and by any question group the test's author set up (this is open-ended, so you can align questions to Bloom's Taxonomy levels, academic vocabulary levels, rigor levels, etc.). Simply:

1. Click Assessments.

2. Find your assessment and click it to open it (see the "Find an Assessment" lesson if you require help).

3. Click Peer Comparison on the assessment's Overview tab.

4) Familiarize Yourself with EL and R-FEP Students' CELDT Scores.

4) Familiarize Yourself with EL and R-FEP Students' CELDT Scores.

Students' ability to read, write, speak, and listen in English will significantly impact their ability to comprehend lessons, and lessons must anticipate potential struggles. Run the CELDT - Student List report (just click Reports and then Pre-Built Reports to find it):

Choose the current/upcoming year as Academic Year (this will pull the students who are entering your class).

Visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/el/ for more information on the CELDT.

5) Create Your Seating Chart with Differentiation in Mind.

5) Create Your Seating Chart with Differentiation in Mind.

Arrange your classroom to allow for easy grouping so that differentiation occurs more often. See the "Student Grouping Options" Help lesson, which explains how the provided student grouping stickers template allows you to quickly group students appropriately without their knowing how their skill levels and demographics play roles.

Use data from the previous steps to complete your seating chart. You might use overall performance data for this, or you might focus on a particular standard or cluster you plan to hit first and/or hard.

Students should be seated appropriately based on their needs (e.g. place an EL next to a same-language R-FEP for peer support, place a Special Ed. near the front where he can best see and get extra help, etc.). You might use DnA's custom reporting tool to view any test data or demographic data that can help you make seating decisions. See the "Create a Custom Report" lesson for help.

Next Steps

Next Steps

Visit the "EXTRAS: Data Analysis" Help manual to advance your analysis skills and your understanding of data.