At my school, teachers are encouraged and required to provide evidence of student learning in the form of student maintained data folders. During my first year of teaching at this particular school, I would keep the data folder for the student. I would constantly add their assessments to the folder and then as students completed standardized tests (MCA, NWEA, I-Ready, etc) I would add the score print offs to the folder.
Let’s be honest with each other. By about October, I had a large pile of papers that were waiting for me to put into the data folders. I needed to develop a more efficient way of keeping this information and accessing it to discuss with students.
I followed this strategy with the development of a data binder. I kept student’s assessments in a drawer that eventually became overflowing with papers that were not easily referenced. (I needed at least 20 minutes to sort through all of them and look for the specific student’s assessment for IEP information.) The change here was that all score reports from those pesky standardized tests went into a binder where each student had their own tab divider. Again all of the work was on me to print out the score report and file the score report. NO FUN!
This year, I was determined to transfer that work from my shoulders onto the students. What a relief!
At first, I thought that data folders felt very elementary for my middle school students. I was concerned that they would not take them seriously and that they would not understand the reasoning behind them. I created a couple of tracking pages that we put into the folders and then copied all of the score reports that I could find and printed them for my students. We spent a day (60 minute periods) putting all of the score reports into the folder and filling out our charts. I then spent some time during guided groups conferencing with students about their folders and filling in the last of the data. We filled out their high and medium growth goals on the state assessment as well as goals for fall and spring NWEA growth.
After spending one day looking at their data, students started to see some trends. They noticed, they had weak areas in geometry and measurement or data analysis and probability. They started to see how close their scores from previous years were to the next level and started thinking about how they would like to perform on the MCA in the spring.
When it came time for conferences, I pulled the folders out and the students started to discuss the trends with their parents. They were able to show how they had performed in years past and then we could look at either the tracking sheet or at the score reports in the folder. It was the most organized I felt for conferences in the 8 years that I have been teaching.