Were you trained in data and assessment?

I’d like to think I’m pretty darn smart, particularly when I was having a conversation with a colleague and a couple of days later the Huffington Post covers a story on that very topic!  Maybe great minds think alike?

The topic – are teacher credential programs preparing teachers for the type of work that is required of them in today’s classroom?  This particular article focuses on a study and questions whether schools of education adequately prepare teachers to interpret and utilize test data.  You can read the article HERE.

I received my M.Ed way back in the late 90’s.  And while I learned plenty of useful information and felt adequately prepared to be in the classroom, I was not trained in data interpretation and psychometrics.  In speaking with colleagues who were trained and graduated from schools of education after me, neither were they trained in these areas.  To be completely honest, I gained a more solid understanding of formative and summative assessments and data interpretation when I started working for K12 assessment companies.  Then it became my responsibility to make sure teachers knew how to interpret the data we were providing.

Yet in this age of accountability – state assessments, district benchmarks as well as any other class room assessment – teachers are testing ALL THE TIME, hopefully receiving useful data.  But is data useful if you aren’t sure how to read it and more importantly how to move forward with that data.

Everyone agrees that we are asking more and more of teachers, to “wear several hats” if you will.  One of those “hats” is being able to drive instruction using data.  Do you think you were adequately trained to interpret the data you receive?  What steps, as a life long learner, have you taken to educate yourself in this area?  I suggested to my colleague that K12 companies should get involved and teach seminars or workshops on their products and reporting process.  In all likelihood, graduating teachers will be using these products in their districts.  How can we make sure that current pre-service teachers are prepared for what is being asked of the teaching profession?

I invite you to read the NCTQ study for yourself and join the conversation.


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  1. Kenny fordace said:

    I have seen the assessment on NCTQ! It was really was full of information. Data Assessments is really a demand able job which can help a lots to gain a good career. Thanks for such post! Keep it up!

  2. Jason Altman said:

    Patricia – Great post, and I know we all struggle to find the time to interpret the data that we already have. Thankfully, web technology allows us to bring the data to life so it can help us efficiently and effectively… and there lies one secret to effective data use to inform instruction. Getting that data onto a digital platform so we can let our technology do a little of the work for us….

  3. Patricia Fowler said:

    Jason, the introduction of technology is great, but can be overwhelming for new teachers. I would like to see assessment companies (ahem, ahem) get more involved with pre-service teachers and showing them how to interpret reports and use data to drive instruction.
    Max, that study is great. Even with such a small sample, I’m guessing most teachers would agree. Classroom Management, Differentiation and Student Assessment are seen as the biggest challenges — of course they are! And they are so intertwined! With good assessment data, a teacher can feel confident about what to teach. Good classroom management is needed in order to do differentiated instruction well.

    How can we get this information into the hands of pre-service teachers and those new to the profession?

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