Modeling data use for teacher and school leader candidates
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Modeling Data Use for Teacher and School Leader Candidates. By: Dr. Jessica Zarian Assistant Professor, Metropolitan College of New York. Date: The Little Word with Big Influence .

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Modeling data use for teacher and school leader candidates

Modeling Data Use for Teacher and School Leader Candidates

By: Dr. Jessica Zarian

Assistant Professor, Metropolitan College of New York


Date the little word with big influence

Date: The Little Word with Big Influence

  • Every semester on the first day of class I review the syllabus with my teacher candidates. I teach the course that coincides with their field experience. I explain that during this semester they will be required to write an ELA unit, and teach that unit to the students in their class.

  • They are told they will also be responsible for providing evidence of student achievement, all while being able to reflect on their teaching practice and speak to how they would change what and how they taught their lessons to better meet the needs of their students.

  • Expressions of worry and distress spread across the room and quickly the question of “How do we do that?” is asked …


How do we do that

“How do we do that?”

  • This leads to a conversation similar to the following

  • “Why do we teach, what we teach?”

  • “Because it is part of the curriculum”

  • “Why is part of the curriculum”

  • “Because they need to learn that to go on the next grade”

  • “How do you know they need to learn that?”

  • “From a test?”

  • “What do tests tell us?”

  • As you can see I do not make it easy on them, but this gets candidates ready to begin the conversation of data


Questions most asked by candidates

Questions Most Asked by Candidates

  • What kind of data do we collect?

  • How do we collect it?

  • What do we do with this data once we collect it?

  • These questions often frustrate and scare candidates, leading them to feel overwhelmed by this work


Start with o ne q uestion

Start With One Question

  • Why are you going to teach this lesson?

  • Hint: Your answer should NEVER be “because it’s next page in the textbook”

  • As candidates start to truly consider why they are teaching a lesson, the validity and need for data work becomes more clear

  • So where do we start?


At the beginning

At the Beginning

  • Start with creating a spreadsheet shell for the class

  • Begin inputted end-of-unit data into the shell for all curriculum areas

    Once that is completed one can:

    • Complete data analysis from spreadsheets to determine sub-groups and outliers within classroom

    • Analyze assessment data to determine areas of need in order to make changes to curriculum (This can be on the classroom level or on the grade level)


Sample spreadsheet shell

Sample Spreadsheet Shell

Input the demographic data for the class in the shell. This data does not change


Math end of unit exam

Math: End of Unit (Exam)

Enter each question with a description


Writing end of unit rubric

Writing: End of Unit (Rubric)

Red arrows indicate learning outcomes for ALL writing pieces (Meaning, Structure, Voice, (Conventions), (presentation)

Blue arrows indicate unit specific skills


Modeling data use for teacher and school leader candidates

Highlight the cell you want to show the average and enter correct column and row (P3:P21=0.315) meaning only 31% of the class correctly answered question 6b

Enter skills or questions for unit in this section

Spreadsheet Shell: Does not change

Student averages can be color coordinated for easy grouping


Easy grouping conditional formatting

Easy Grouping: Conditional Formatting

Highlight wanted cells, hit “conditional formatting” and set the range. In this case Red for below target and Green for at or above target

By selecting your mid point range (in this case “.5”) anything higher will appear green and lower will appear red

Every spreadsheet tells a story, its learning how to read that story that is valuable and leads to best practice


Using conditional formatting as a tool to help reflect on teaching p ractice

Using Conditional Formatting as a tool to help Reflect on Teaching Practice

  • Conditional Formatting will allow candidates to see quickly:

    • Which students need additional support, perhaps in a small group

    • Which topics might need to be retaught to the class as a whole (encouraging the candidate to re-examine the way that lesson was taught the first time and reflecting on why it was not a success)

    • Using class data to determine possible holes in the curriculum. Then making necessary changes to the unit for future classes, and making changes to the following unit to make up for gaps students might still have

Looking at data across a grade and school helps tell a more complete story


Pivot tables summarize large amounts of data into categories

Pivot tables summarize large amounts of data into categories

This will appear automatically. Leave it as is (it is the formula for the cells you highlighted)

Highlight the cells you wish to enter into your table and hit the “pivot table” button

If you would like the table to appear on the bottom of the spreadsheet hit “existing worksheet” and select a location or cell for your table to begin


Using pivot tables help to determine outliers

Using Pivot Tables Help to determine Outliers

Click the fields you wish to summarize and drag them into the “Row Labels” section

This completed Pivot table Summarizes data for ELLs and Native English speakers and boys to girls in the class, allowing one to compare these groups easily

Finally drag the field name “average” into the values section. Double click and change “count of average” to Average of Average”


Spreadsheets made easy

Spreadsheets Made Easy

  • I have watched candidates, who once told me that they are “aren’t good at math or computers” claim that they “couldn’t do this work” thrive with these few easy steps.


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