Forming a Data Team will provide a much needed focus and attention on the data and data analysis in the school. While I believe most teachers have seen large portions of the data we have, few have had the training or time needed to do much with it. The greatest use in recent years has been individual teachers looking at the item-level data on formative assessments to re-teach concepts not fully learned based on the data. While this is certainly positive and needed, I see there is now greater potential for a team approach with a broader perspective, and this course provided the needed information to plan and organize a Data Team. I have learned that facilitating such an initiative will require skill to help ensure teachers are not feeling threatened by the data, and that trust and openness are established in the data-driven dialogues. The Using Data Process (UDP) is an excellent way to keep the meetings organized and on track, and the wealth of UDP resources in the book will of great benefit in that regard. While some handouts will need adapting, it is helpful to have a place to start, and ideas upon which to build.
I have further learned how to identify sources of data. This was challenging during the summer months, but as it turned out, I likely learned much more than I would have had someone in the office simply handed me what I needed. I was required to investigate to find the sources of data, and many of the charts I needed had not been made. I was able to gain some excellent experience in collecting the data needed, making charts and graphs and analyzing the data. I have not been a big Excel user in the past, but now feel much more comfortable with it, and actually enjoyed making the charts and graphs. The Excel tutorials in this course were excellent, and I have saved the links for future reference and to share with others.
Finally, I am thankful to have had the experience in analyzing the data from our school to determine student learning problems and to actually begin the action planning process to address those concerns. Our data team, once established, will go through this process as well and will additionally take the time to identify and verify the causes before reaching solutions. In closing, as I said at the start, I have a much greater appreciation for data and how it can be used in our school to guide our instructional decisions. Thankfully, I feel that I am much better equipped to assist in leading our school through the process of using data effectively.