Educators need time to crunch the data

Iowa middle school students leave early one day each week so teachers can analyze test results
By: | Issue: August, 2015
July 22, 2015

A northern Iowa principal has set aside time for teachers to dig into test data so they can adjust instruction and improve achievement on state tests.

Principal Steve Kwikkel of Clear Lake Middle School, part of Clear Lake Community School District, gave extra time to teachers during the school day to examine student testing data and tailor lessons accordingly. For the past two school years, 300 middle school students have been dismissed early every Wednesday while teachers meet in multidisciplinary groups to discuss data and instruction.

“It’s about having accessible data, and having a consistent time in which teachers can review that data and put it into practice,” Kwikkel says. “If you don’t have time during your work day to review that information, you won’t see buy-in or a sense of efficacy built among teachers. They won’t be sure if the work they do is paying off in the classroom.”

Kwikkel also developed an enrichment and remediation period called “iTime instruction.” Each morning, students get additional support in subjects they struggle with on the state assessments. Teachers place them in small groups depending on their area of need, and move them into different groups as they progress.

The work is paying off: In 2013-14, 88 percent of the school’s sixth graders were proficient in math on state assessments. In 2014-15, 98 percent of the same students were proficient. And reading improved: 87 percent of sixth graders achieved proficiency in 2013-14, and the following year, 92 percent of the same students did. “Once teachers begin to see that the data does have an impact, using it becomes second nature,” Kwikkel says.

Nationally, K12 teachers have a desire to integrate technology at a deeper and broader level, but say they need more assistance to make it happen, according to the June 2015 “Vision K-20 Survey” report from the Education Technology Industry Network.

“Educators are clearly indicating that they need more training and more technical support, and better access to technology overall,” says Mark Schneiderman, senior director of education policy at the Education Technology Industry Network. “That’s a strong message for school leaders. Teachers are looking for even better access and quality of data, so it is even more actionable for them.”