I made the mistake of thinking that all assessment data had value, and used it for the wrong reasons. Early in the process, I didn’t understand the quality of the test or activity was more important than the resulting data.

15 things I have learned about assessment data

  1. Assessment quality is the most important part of data drive decisions. Weak tests, no matter the intention, give you bad data
  2. Spend first on creating quality assessments, not on cool technology.
  3. District assessments can be shorter than you think and still provide good data. They just have to be high quality.
  4. Dashboards are not as useful to teachers as I used to think. I like a good visual, but cool does not matter if the test was weak. Kindergarten teachers don’t need dashboards. It annoys them.
  5. State test data is for student groups and trends. Using it to judge a teacher is wrong. This data is more parents, school programs, and environment than individual teachers.
  6. Focus district assessment creation on big picture decisions, not the classroom. District assessments designed to help the instructional decisions try to do too many things.
  7. Predictive assessments are not wrong, as long as they don’t use significant time. They give school sites and teachers perspective and ideas for making adjustments.
  8. Predictive assessments used for state test planning narrow curriculum.
  9. Diagnostic assessments are not a waste of time. But they should be used by teams and departments to plan for instruction and reaching goals.
  10. District programs benefit from different data types than the classroom. It is the reason classroom teachers don’t always understand the thinking behind their district assessments.
  11. Classroom assessments produce better information for the teacher than district tests. Spend time building assessment creation skills with your teachers.
  12. Individual faculty and students are worth more than one test result.
  13. Curriculum effects performance data. High-quality curriculum and materials help everyone involved in the learning process.
  14. Short term changes don’t always equal success in the long run. Cutting corners to get higher scores hurts over time for stakeholders.
  15. District and site goals should be similar. Team and classroom goals can be much different from site and district goals.