Mid-year check-in: Understanding the role of data in your child’s education

By Latoya AitCheson, associate director of network impact, Intrepid College Prep

A student at Intrepid College Prep Independence Academy works with Tara Cravens, ESL teacher.

A student at Intrepid College Prep Independence Academy works with Tara Cravens, ESL teacher.

Why schools use data:

Across the country, high-quality schools are using data driven instruction to shape their objectives and move the needle on student achievement. Student data allows teachers and school leaders to figure out where students are in a given moment, modify instruction based on what they find, and ultimately, ensure that all students are reaching their academic goals.

Schools use a variety of assessments and methods to regularly track student performance. As a parent, understanding how schools are using your child’s data is essential for better supporting your scholar in and out of the classroom. By becoming more familiar with how your child’s school approaches data, you’ll be able to have more empowered conversations and productive conferences.

Questions to ask your child’s teachers about data:

  • Is it possible to see my child’s full academic profile?

  • How does her/his performance compare to her/his peers at the district and state level?

  • Can you explain the types of tools you use to measure academic progress?

  • How is this information being used to personalize her/his academic experience?

  • How is my child doing in comparison to grade level expectations?

  • Does my child need help in any specific areas?

  • How can I support my child’s academic growth from home?

  • What types of strategies are teachers using that I may be able to reinforce at home?

Types of data:

Your child’s academic profile should include data from a variety of sources. Examples include assessments meant to see how your child is progressing through the school year, as well as tests related to specific classes and content. This kind of reporting is extremely useful for providing context to your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as providing projections for how s/he will perform on future assessments. This allows teachers to respond immediately to the students’ current academic needs, as well as strategically plan out future lesson plans to further support those needs.

How my school responds to data:

At Intrepid College Prep, data driven instruction is one of the pillars of our academic model. Based on what we saw in the data first semester, this semester, Intrepid will offer Saturday School for students who are struggling in two or more classes, provide additional support called RTI or Response to Intervention for students performing well below grade level, and continue to offer Learning Lab, a remediation block built into the middle school day where teachers reteach material to promote mastery of grade-level standards. Specifically, at our high school, we will be restructuring study hall to increase the level of intervention students receive in core content classes and will be introducing an afterschool homework clinic. These academic supports allow us to urgently respond to the data and provide students with more individualized supports as we head into the second semester.

This example is just one of the many ways in which schools are responding to data and realigning their work for the second half of the school year. As partners with us in this work, we encourage parents to engage in conversations with their child’s teachers about how their child is performing and ask questions so that we can all work together to support our students and ensure they have a strong second semester!

Kelli Gauthier