Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If You Can't Graph It, It doesn't Count

To adapt a phrase by Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire, “Show me the data!”  Schools have become data-driven organizations.  We can no longer just say, “Johnny can’t read.”  We have to prove it.  And we have to clearly identify where the problems are through error analysis.  Does “can’t read” mean he can’t sound out words, doesn’t read fluently, or doesn’t understand what he read?  Is the content unfamiliar?  The reading level too high?  Is he a sight-reader?  Does he have working memory issues?  How does his inability to read play out in other subject areas?
Data can answer all of these.  But you have to know what to collect, how to collect it, how to graph it, and how to interpret it.  Should I use frequency data, latency, interval?  How many data points do I need to identify a trend?  And who has time to do all that? 
In the era of Responsiveness to Intervention, Child Study Teams, and clearly defined accountability standards for kids with disabilities, we have no choice but to use data to make sound educational decisions.  Looking at grades, test scores, and work samples won’t cut it.  Unfortunately, most of us are pretty uncomfortable with data collection and statistical analyses.

You don’t need a degree in Statistics to use data to your advantage.  Take a look at the online learning module offered by PLC Consultants.  It could be just what you or staff needs to take the guesswork out of data.

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