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Educators, here is what you do with the data after you've collected it

You’ve collected the *formative* data. Now what?

Sort the data into these three sections:

  1. Students who have demonstrated proficiency.

  2. Students who are almost at proficiency.

  3. Students who are nowhere near proficiency.

Then, physically sort your students into their groups.

Once you’ve sorted, students are given a task that correlates to their proficiency levels.

And that's it.

It really can be that simple, IF these two things also happen:

  1. The data you collect is formative in nature. It is a Check for Understanding (CFU). More on that here.

  2. Student responses can actually be sorted. Meaning, you have physical responses (e.i. sticky notes) or have documented each student response (oral or written) on a tracker.

Here is an example:

A 4th grade class is studying a historical event, such as the American Revolution. The teacher's lesson target is: By the end of this lesson, students will be able to summarize foundational attributes of the war.

After teaching the mini-lesson, the teacher wants to know if students can identify one of the root causes of the American Revolution. She has administered and collected, on scrap paper, a Check for Understanding. This CFU asks students to complete the stem, “The Boston Tea Party was a key event because…"

The teacher collects responses and sorts them into three groups:

  1. Students who were able to provide a reason why the Boston Tea Party was significant.

  2. Students who were able to provide a reason that was close to identifying why the Boston Tea Party was significant.

  3. Students who were not close to providing a reason why the Boston Tea Party was significant.

Based on these responses, students will move to one of the three groups. Each group has a clear task:

Group 1: This group will evaluate and use a few primary documents to complete the rest of the graphic organizer that was distributed during the mini-lesson.

Group 2: This group will read a supplemental article that explicitly explains more about the Boston Tea Party. Once they finish reading, students will revise their CFU. They will then work on the same task as Group 1.

Group 3 will meet with the teacher for a reteach. After the re-teach, they will revise their CFU.

The teacher brings the class back together after Group 3 is finished.

And that is that. No exhaustive materials or assignments.

So, when creating the tasks that align with student proficiency levels, consider these things:

  1. Low-prep activities and materials are imperative, avoiding unnecessary complexity or excessive stimulation. It is the content that drives the rigor.

  2. The onus of the work is on the student. Tasks should be completed with minimal teacher involvement.

  3. Establish clear group dynamics and a consistent routine. Students should be familiar with how to collaborate within their groups and understand group expectations.

Formative data utilization underscores the essence of student-centered instruction. By segmenting students based on their proficiency levels and tailoring tasks to their progress, we ensure responsive action and improved learning outcomes.

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