Making Student Data Part of the Conversation


In moving Humboldt Elementary to a more data-driven model, one of the first challenges that former principal Cole Young faced was figuring out how to use the data, how to share it, and how to get everyone on the same page with the numbers. The school didn’t have a culture of data, and creating one was difficult. “I had never been a part of a data culture, and we didn’t have a system in place for it,” Young says. One of Humboldt’s early mistakes was what Young calls “death by data,” where teachers were given a mountain of numbers and often felt a sense of “now what?”


Young began parsing through the data and looking for what would be the most useful for teachers, providing them with enough data to help them feel effective and targeted in their instruction without crossing the line into overwhelming. Once that data was shared, Humboldt staff met as a group to look at the numbers and talk about what to do with it, how it applied to research-based practices, and strategize collaboratively as a school.


Every teacher had a different comfort level with working this way, but once they looked at the data and were able to see the data points start to move for their students, the staff developed an overall sense of empowerment and buy-in.


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