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185.

Capacity to monitor and assess student learning data and to use this data to
inform teaching for improved student learning.

Monitoring and assessing student learning through the collection of data is crucial to
not only understanding student learning processes but also improving the teachers
capacity to deliver learning outcomes. Using data to guide instruction is important if
our schools are to maintain a clear focus upon goals and if we are to use the limited
instructional time to maximum advantage.

I use data about student achievement from:


Standardised, norm-referenced, criterion-referenced tests
Questioning in class
Performance and standards-based assessments
Tests, projects and quizzes that I author myself
My own observations at a teacher
Student work

A significant challenge is transforming data into information that leads to improved


learning. In an age where it is possible to be overwhelmed with data, they key is to
understand how to successfully use data, not just collect it. When collecting,
monitoring and assessing student learning data I ensure that:

The assessment practices that I use reflect the full range of learning program
objectives.
Assessment criteria are explicit.
I involve my students in the planning and assessment of activities.
Students receive constructive feedback, and that attention is directed to
achievable gaps between desired and actual performances.
I conduct reflection and self-assessment on assessment practices.
I use collected evidence to information teaching for improved student learning.
I consider new ideas that might improve student learning programs.

Examples of how I have collected, monitored and assessed and used student
learning data follows.

I use (Schools) assessment program and the learning data produced from learning
units to generate comprehensive records that facilitate systematic monitoring of the
success of curriculum delivery and learning approaches. I also believe in the use of
assessments at the beginning of the school year or new unit of study, and the use of
standardised measurements.
For example, when teaching Prep at (School) I asked parents to let me know if their
children had any reading skills so I could conduct an assessment prior to teaching
reading skills. I had anticipated this would quickly and easily identify students who
already had a level of reading skills to be placed in a more advanced reading group.
However, I discovered a few weeks after grouping students and commencing the
reading program that parents have different definitions of reading skills. Some
parents assumed this meant understanding basic phonics, while other parents
assumed it meant being able to pick up a piece of text and read it. As a consequence,
I found myself, at parents request, testing some students with very basic alphabet
and phonics understanding while other students who could spell out words were left
un-noticed. Since this discovery, I now assess each student prior to commencing a
reading program using the Early Years Online Literacy Interview to ensure a
standardised assessment process across all students and as a tool for measuring
development over time.

In relation to the method of data collection, for lower-level primary I conduct


performance based assessments and tests at the beginning of the school year or a
new unit to establish a baseline, and then take observational notes usually until the
middle of the year. I then continue with performance based assessments and tests
until the end of the year. I have found that continual testing of younger students
often leads to anxiety particularly when these students are still getting accustomed
to the school environment and new daily customs. It is also my personal philosophy
that the first part of the year is a time for forming a foundation and instilling
confidence in future learning, and the learning curve is, therefore, a lot slower than
the latter part of the year where it is more necessary for more formal assessments
where progress and a consistent learning curve can be measured.

In my teaching career I have found that the benefits of using student learning data
broadly include:
Identifying curricular targets for individual students.
Identifying groupings of students.
Identifying at risk students (for example, students from non-English speaking
backgrounds, unusually young students, students with a lack of interest or large gap
in knowledge compared to the rest of the class).
Highlighting weaknesses in topics for the class, or groups of students within the
class.
Highlighting weaknesses for specific students.
The provision of evidence to support teaching decisions.