Using Data to Drive Instruction and Improve Outcomes

Uniting the Art of Teaching with the Science of Learning

“To be a good teacher today, we have to be learners ourselves. We have to grow and evolve. We have to be fluid, adaptive — and we have to discover what inspires each child we have the privilege and honor to teach.”

Across the country, educators are recognizing the importance of using student data to drive instruction. As technology advances and we have more data available to us, it’s becoming clearer that using that data to be extremely purposeful in everything that we do is crucial to effectively serving our students.

But, with detailed data and advanced technology comes a new balancing act: data alone cannot drive every instructional decision, every interaction with a student — most of all, it cannot replace the relationships that teachers foster with students.

At McGraw-Hill Education, we let the science of learning guide our work. We take what we know about how the human mind learns, and apply it to the design of our tools and materials. But we also let another element guide our work: the art of teaching. We recognize that it is only in the hands of a master teacher, who has the ability to connect with and build trust between young learners, that this science and data can have any real impact on student outcomes.

Combining the art of teaching with the science of learning in the classroom every day is where this balancing act becomes key: it takes a skilled, empathetic, and analytical educator to unite data and relationships in such a way that empowers learners. But when done just right, it can make all the difference in the world for a growing mind.

We interviewed a few educators from the Art of Teaching Project about their experiences with using data to drive instruction. This is what they said:

“Without authentic and meaningful relationships, student data becomes a numerical value that we use to “label” a student’s academic success. In the classroom, I discovered that student data is really numerical value that measures relationships. When we look at data and see the numbers rise, we are really seeing a rise in the meaningful relationships that have with their academics, teachers, peers, and themselves.” — Nicole Quinn, SEL & Equity Coach

“Data drives the instruction for the child, but it does not define the child.” — Dean Deaver, Math Teacher

“There are many reasons to use data to drive my instruction but my daily teaching is heavily influenced by flexible grouping based on skill or standard. This use of data allows me to teach for mastery for each student while easily providing personalized instruction.
My favorite use of meaningful data is actually by my students! We track our progress toward mastery and pre-and post-test scores in our portfolios. It is motivational for my students to monitor their growth over our year together. My students love to show their families the results!” — Beth Maloney, 5th Grade Teacher

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