Cycle of Improvement
Make data part of an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement.
- Collect and prepare a variety of data about student learning.
- No single assessment provides complete information for teachers to make informed instructional decisions. To gain a deeper understanding of students' learning needs, teachers need to collect data from multiple sources, such as annual state assessments, interim district and school assessments, classroom performance data, and other relevant data. To better answer specific questions using data collected, teachers need to aggregate the data to show patterns or trends in student achievement. A districtwide data system allows teachers to aggregate data by classroom, content areas, or assignment type to identify patterns in performance.
- Interpret data and develop hypotheses about how to improve student learning.
- Interpreting data allows teachers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an entire class as well as individual students. Teachers need to examine evidence from multiple data sources to arrive at well-justified conclusions about students' learning needs. As they examine the data, teachers can develop hypotheses about factors that affect students' learning and ways to improve instruction to help all students achieve. It is important for teachers to slow down and ask why during this phase of the cycle of instructional improvement.
- Modify instruction to test hypotheses and increase student learning.
- After forming hypotheses about students' learning needs, teachers can examine current instruction and test the hypotheses by implementing instructional changes they believe are likely to raise student achievement. After implementing changes, it is recommended that teachers return to the first step of the cycle, collecting new data and working collaboratively to assess the instructional changes and their impact. Drawing from the data, teachers need to determine whether to continue the instructional improvement in its current form, modify or extend the approach, or try a different approach.