School management and data-driven teaching

In my previous TOI blog “Assessment: The evidence of Learning”, I explained how the use of assessment data by teachers and school leaders can initiate a cycle of continuous improvement in learning outcomes. every child, as the data allows schools to look at the whole picture of a learner and plan a holistic learning experience that takes into account not only test scores, but all other factors such as demographics, personal and family information, records related to physical, emotional and cognitive development, learning disabilities and behavioral issues, etc. therefore has the potential to transform learning in our classroom by improving teacher responsiveness to multiple learners.

Before the advent of advanced technologies, the manual system of data collection was tedious and limited to registrations and medical records or bulletins. Now, with sophisticated LMSs, educational software, computing technologies, high-speed internet, and cloud-based storage at their disposal, schools have access to big data analytics that help them extract relevant information for purpose. of decision making. However, our schools continue to suffer from DRIP syndrome, Rich in data; little information. School leaders and teachers have access to vast amounts of data, but are they using it to make crucial decisions that impact daily learning in their classrooms?

Data Literacy

Understanding data, interpreting it and using it to inform practice is called data literacy. A person knowing the data integrates data analysis into day-to-day decision-making. Data literacy not only improves the critical thinking of all stakeholders, but also makes them confident and creative in solving problems!

  • Data-literate learners know their strengths and weaknesses; are high on metacognition and resilience, therefore self-directed.
  • Data-savvy teachers know the difficulties and achievements of their learners. They have an action plan to help them succeed.
  • Data-savvy school leaders plan to support and improve student achievement and teacher performance by generating resources.
  • Data-savvy parents find out where their child is doing academically and how they can help them improve. They are helpful and not helpless with their child.

Data Driven Education Roadmap

Online courses generate valuable data every time a teacher conducts online quizzes, polls, surveys, short tests using Google Forms, etc. software like kahoot, edpuzzle, quiz etc capture and organize student responses in real time, automatically grade them based on attendance, performance, and track responses by question. What makes it really valuable is that it all happens while teaching a subject and not much after the subject, when at best it’s a post-mortem of the lesson plan. This real time data helps teachers solve two serious mysteries of their classrooms-

a.) Why are some learners unable to learn what they have taught? Is it because of some previous learning gaps or because of the way it was taught?

b.) How to “re-teach” the concept and skills so that learning happens seamlessly?

Armed with authentic data, collected from multiple sources, teachers are empowered to design “differentiated teaching”. A simple and workable procedure for this would be as follows-

1.Use reference data to assess learning. This will help teachers identify learning gaps in knowledge and skills. Teachers can group learners with similar learning needs and plan a personalized learning experience for each group. These groups are flexible and are reviewed periodically and modified as necessary. Baseline data can be generated from previous assessments or from a pre-test taken before teaching a subject.

2. Combine quantitative data with qualitative data: Quantitative data can be supported by non-technological tools such as individual interaction with learners or observation of them while working alone or in groups. This will help the teacher understand the emotional state and social preferences of children and plan a learning experience that children will enjoy and feel comfortable in.

3. Convert data to action- based on learner data, the teacher should frame learning outcomes that are measurable. Continue to design content, teaching-learning strategies and assessments. These activities and processes should be tailored to the learning needs of each group and act as scaffolding that will help them build their new knowledge and acquire new skills. Aligning this process with national curriculum objectives or NCERT learning outcomes will help teachers assess their learners’ progress against national standards.

4. Share your goals with learners- Teachers should make learning goals visible to learners so that learners are inspired to work towards them and can assess their own progress.

5. Use gauge ratings like MCQs, quizzes, exit slips, gap filling, polls, online polls, virtual discussion forums and chat box responses. Compile learner responses to track their performance and plan for reinforcement the next day. Multiple assessments/data sources will give a more complete picture of learner progress.

6. Examine the effectiveness- This spiral of continuous improvement that the teacher initiates requires constant monitoring and review to decide the future course of action. Based on the data generated by learner monitoring, teachers continue to review their pedagogy to make it more responsive to learner needs.

Build a culture of using data

Promoting a culture of using data in school requires institutionalizing three practices – data collection, data analysis and data action! It will also require building the capacity of teachers in data processing, data analysis and customization of teaching materials and pedagogy through workshops and sessions with technical and academic experts. Teachers must learn to examine data to find answers to their questions and to analyze, work with, review and report on learner data.

School leaders will not only need to learn data management, but also consciously integrate data analysis into their decision-making by using tools such as survey questionnaires, checklists, rating scales, rating and frequency scales and rating rubrics, etc.

Using data will become an inherent and intrinsic part of a school’s working culture if teachers are encouraged to work collaboratively while analyzing data, thinking about new strategies and reviewing their work. Enhancing learners’ achievements and appreciating their successes in the classroom will keep teachers motivated and inspired to continue using data-driven practices.

In conclusion

Word ‘culture’ is derived from the French word ‘anger’ which means nurture, grow, cultivate and nurture. Enculturation of data use in schools will not happen overnight as it requires a conscious shift in mindsets, thinking and how a school operates. And change takes time.

School leaders will need to patiently educate faculty and staff by gradually increasing their faith and skill in using data and making them believe that usage-data-analysis is the ‘future of work” because it brings more precision, speed, efficiency and accuracy to our practices.

Learners who are “digital natives” do not face such mental or skill barriers and have already unconsciously adopted them into their work processes. For once, teachers have to work hard to catch up with their learners!



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


Jeremy S. McLain