Here at AssessmentLiteracy.org, our goal is to foster a comprehensive understanding of assessment and its role in learning. We want to help educators understand the different uses of assessment and how to apply assessment data to support classroom learning. This is certainly no easy task for teachers, who today are charged with not only teaching, but observing, measuring, intervening, tailoring, personalizing, and assessing all while being assessed themselves. And while we strive here to provide ideas, tools, and strategies around better understanding assessment and its subsequent data, teachers likely do not have all of the tools and support they need for success.
In a report a while back, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) charged all educators and policymakers with the challenge of better developing and supporting measurable data literacy skills. The report defined what a ‘data literate’ educator is and outlines what state and federal policymakers need to do to ensure that every teacher is data literate. The report also helped better distinguish the difference between data literacy and assessment literacy – that is, while both speak to the use of data to drive student learning, it’s important to realize that the data available to teachers goes beyond that garnered from assessment alone, to include attendance data, peer observations, and formative assessment (which as we know gets lumped into the assessment space, but is much more than that).
The DQC report highlighted four shifts that can go a long way in making data literacy an integrated part of school life for teachers and administrators, and they are highlighted here:
1. Embed the definition of data literacy into teacher policies and guidelines. This would/should include program approval, licensure, teacher professional development programs, and other policies as needed and as are relevant.
2. Promote, support, and incentivize quality, ongoing teacher professional development focused on data use. Give teachers the tools and skills they need to improve instruction based on what the data provides. Learning does not stop after college and as best practices and tools evolve over time, so too should teacher training.
3. Use licensure exams and performance assessments to measure whether teachers have obtained the needed data literacy skills before entering the classroom. Once states have set the standards of data literacy for a licensed teacher, it’s important to measure whether these standards are being met.
4. Incorporate evidence of teacher data literacy skills into performance evaluations. Help teachers by providing feedback on their data use practices along with a path toward improvement.
These are high-level initiatives that need attention at the local, state and federal-level for optimum success, but certainly fall nicely into our goals of promoting assessment and data literacy. For more about how to be intentional in using data, check out our previous post on the topic. And, share your ideas about incorporating data literacy into the classroom at our Twitter feed (@Assess2Learn) or on our Facebook page.