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Analyze Data for Decision-Making

Icon representing family engagement, two hands enveloping a heart

Schedule regular check-ins with families.
Many times, families are their student's primary source of encouragement and support, so communicate with families about the student's learning progress and unique learning preferences to better equip families to support their student’s learning (Borup et al., 2019b). Texting and electronic family journals enable daily check-ins and an opportunity for educators and students to share daily wins and challenges with family members (Cosier et al., 2013; Mac Iver et al., 2021; Valerie & Foss-Swanson, 2012).

Assessment data is only as good as what is done with it. Analyzing assessment data can inform decision-making at instructional, programmatic, and systemic levels within a district. Educators can use assessment data to make instructional decisions that best suit learner-needs. Assessment (and other) data about subgroups of students can inform district programmatic decisions and trigger improvements in targeted services. District-wide assessment data can inform systemic decisions that result in widespread improvements throughout the district. How and by whom assessment data is being analyzed and used should be transparent and understood by everyone in the district, including students, families, educators, administrators, and policymakers.

The Center for Inclusive Technology in Education Systems (CITES) uses an iterative design-thinking process, in partnership with local districts, to identify and refine a set of promising practices that enhance assessments within an inclusive technology ecosystem.

Actions districts can take to analyzing data for decision-making include:

  • Use assessment data to drive instructional decisions.
  • Include assessment data in programmatic decisions.
  • Use assessment data to inform systemic decisions district-wide.

Bristol Township's Story

Photo of the Bristol School District building in PA

Bristol Township School District serves approximately 6,300 students in Levittown, Pennsylvania. The district vision for student learning is focused on building creativity and a “maker mindset” through student-centered and personalized learning. District leaders shared their belief that a “Maker Space is not a physical space, but, rather, a mindset, an educational philosophy that puts learning in the hands of students, cultivating a culture where students are creators of their learning outcomes and thereby empowering students to take ownership of their education.” This focus on student-centered and authentic learning requires a shift from focusing on standardized testing and traditional assessments to more holistic and alternative measures of student growth to continue to drive personalized instruction.

District leaders noted the importance of building capacity among students, parents, teachers, and school leaders to understand how to measure student growth and use the data to improve learning, instruction, and programs. Acknowledging the challenges of measuring student learning in a personalized and flexible learning model, the district explored a range of measures, including attendance rate changes, as a way of assessing engagement; behavior patterns; choices that students were making about their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning pathways; and academic outcomes from project-based learning and embedded digital assessment tools. The district’s instructional coaches provide support to teachers, administrators, students, and families in understanding how the data can provide a holistic picture of student growth and inform changes to classroom instruction as well as schoolwide program improvements. This support for building stakeholder understanding of data has been a critical component of driving personalized instruction in Bristol and in creating systems for recognizing student learning and growth in ways that traditional assessment may miss.

Supporting Research

Borup, J., Chambers, C. B., & Stimson, R. (2019a). Online teacher and on-site facilitator perceptions of parental engagement at a supplemental virtual high school. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(2). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i2.4237

Cosier, M., Gomez, A., McKee, A., Maghzi, K. S. (2013). Smart phones permitted: How teachers use text messaging to collaborate. Education and Information Technologies, 20(2), 347–358. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-013-9288-2

Mac Iver, M.A., Sheldon, S., & Clark, E. (2021) Widening the portal: How schools can help more families access and use the parent portal to support student success. Middle School Journal, 52:1, 14-22, 

Valerie, L. M., & Foss-Swanson, S. (2012). Using family message journals to improve student writing and strengthen the school–home partnership. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 44(3), 40–48. https://doi.org/10.1177/004005991204400305

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