Collecting and analyzing data to inform instruction

by Amanda Miliner

Grades K-2, Grades 3-5


For me, assessment is a holistic approach to knowing your students. I learn about their learning styles, their personalities, their weaknesses and strengths, and which content areas they succeed in or struggle with.

It starts with conversations on which I build a profile using data. That coupled with pre- and post-assessments gives me a fuller and fairer portrait of who my students are.

All of this information allows me to more accurately determine how to work with my kids during the year. Some kids may want to work alone and some in groups. Many change during the year and I’m able, through continuous assessment, to respond to those changes.

Continuous assessment drives and informs my instruction and gives me the most latitude to change it up on the fly. It also makes it possible for some kids to be a bit behind and some to move ahead.

The key point to know is that when a classroom isn’t using ongoing assessment, it is inevitably more teacher-centric and not driven by the needs of the students. In a classroom with continuous assessment, you will more likely see facilitation of groups of kids clustered according to the specific needs they have at that moment, rather than the teacher instructing from the front of the classroom.


What I did well…

One aspect of the lesson that I feel is worth celebrating is the positive collaborative climate within the class. In order for partner and small group instruction to be effective and efficient, students must be comfortable asking questions and helping one another. As you could see in the videos, the students supported each other in the learning process. This collaborative spirit optimizes the learning experience for everyone, because one teacher cannot feasibly be everywhere. This is why we must encourage our students to become teachers and facilitators of their own learning.

What I would do more of, better, or differently…

In this sequence, I wish I had showed the student data notebooks. This would have shown how the personality assessments, interest inventories, and learning inventories are used to guide grouping and instruction. In addition, the data notebooks show pre and post assessments with bar graphs showing the growth.  Each student is responsible for organizing their notebook and maintaining their graphs. Most importantly, the data notebooks include student created learning goals.  These goals are used to help the students become drivers of their learning, understanding where they were and where they want to go. 

I still want to grow in this practice by…

One area I have been working hard to improve upon is my ability to create higher order formative and summative assessments that prepare our students for the language and rigor of the state assessment.

About Amanda Miliner

Amanda’s teaching career has included positions in pre-K, third, fourth and 5th grades. As a classroom teacher in Title I Schools, Amanda has been ...

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