“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.” –Ralph Marston
“If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” –Mary Pickford
We have been looking at data tracking and student growth. In Part I, we looked at the importance of a good data tracking system, and in Part II, we discussed three reading assessments I recommend.
Today, we will be looking at recording data. There are many ways you can record data, but for me, a good old fashioned spreadsheet works best. If you are a teacher who collaborate with other teachers or shares students, I recommend using Google Sheets. This way, you will both have direct access to data.
Here is how I approach data collection:
Create a spreadsheet and make separate pages for each assessment.
On the first page you create, list student names along left column.
Copy and paste student list to each new assessment page.
Decide how you want to label columns. For example, for Dibels assessment (I talk about this in Part II), have columns for: Fall Words Per Minute, Fall Error Medium, and then do the same for winter and spring.
Enter score for each student.
This is a very basic description of data collection. Each teacher will discover what works best once they start a systematic data system. Some teachers prefer a paper chart in a binder; others learn to customize their charts, color code, and make graphs. There are many ways to approach data collection. The important thing is to have the data, and have it organized and readily accessible.
In Part I, I wrote about how important it is for teachers to have an efficient data tracking system in place. In Part II, we will look at some of the assessments I use, and how I use them to measure student growth.
A few reliable assessments I like to use include:
Dibels (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy). I use this assessment to measure grade-level reading fluency. The good news is–it’s FREE! (The not so good news is it takes a long time to assemble once printed and is somewhat confusing to assemble) Type “Dibels” in your search engine and download from the University of Oregon. At the beginning of the year, make packets for each student and grade level (for me, that means grades K-6). Give your students each 3 one-minute timed passages to read. This will take place three times a year in fall, winter, and spring. Each time, calculate the words per minute for the three passages, as well as errors, and record the median score. You will now have your student’s grade level fluency rate. This is great solid data to have, and will show whether your students are making growth in their decoding and fluency.
DRA, (Developmental Reading Assessment). I have worked at four different schools, and they have all had a set of DRAs. As such, I am hoping you have access to this assessment. The DRA will give you a fluency rate once students are decoding, but I like to use it primarily to look at reading comprehension and writing skills. The assessment has a range of what it tests, depending on grade level, but once students are decoding, they read a passage and answer comprehension questions and write a passage. It is always a good idea to have a leveled writing assessment. This will show whether students are on grade-level, ahead, or lagging behind. The one tricky thing about the DRA is it is graded based on a rubric, and though mostly structured, it can be a little more subjective when graded depending on the teacher.
QPA (Quick Phonics Assessment). This is another assessment that you can download for FREE. A colleague recently introduced me to this test, and I really like. Each subtest looks at different phonetic reading skills, and gives you a good idea where to focus. For example, you may see a deficit in r-controlled vowels, vowel teams, and multisyllabic words. This, in turn, helps guide your teaching instruction and address areas of need and deficits.
I hope this helps! In Part III, we will look at tracking methods, and what to do if you find you have a student (or students) who isn’t showing growth. Have a wonderful weekend!
As a Learning Specialist, I report progress on IEP goals in quantitative terms. As such, it’s essential (for my sanity) to have a good system in place for recording and retrieving student data.
Setting up a system is initially time consuming, but once in place, it saves you time and allows you to be accurate and confident in your reporting throughout the year. It is also a great way for you to identify areas of need and growth for your students.
Here are some key points to consider/follow when recording major data points:
Identify what you want to measure.
Identify what assessments you will use to measure student growth.
Give assessment and establish a baseline for each student.
Identify how often you will access; this is typically fall, winter, and spring.
When thinking about data collection, mull over these points and ask, “What do I want to measure?” For me, this typically includes: decoding, fluency, comprehension, writing, and mathematical computations.
In Part II, I will give you specific examples of what assessments I use, and how I record them.