Teacher Data Literacy Week is an opportunity to elevate why data-literate teachers are so important to student success and the actions that can be taken to support teachers in building these skills. This blog is by Jen Martinez, parent and president-elect of the Florida PTA, and advocate for teacher data literacy in support of parent-teacher partnerships.
As a parent, we often have discussions about report cards and the grades our children earn. Many times, we find ourselves focusing on the A’s and B’s or the Exceeding Expectations or Proficient. However, did we ever stop to look at the data behind those benchmarks? Data can tell a parent a lot!
One year, I went in for my parent-teacher conference and was enlightened by a wonderful teacher that shared very valuable information with me – information that helped me support and guide all my children throughout their academic careers. During the conference, I learned that you have to look beyond the grade when assessing a child’s performance. While your child may have gotten an A on their most recent report card, there is more you need to look into, like if your child is performing on grade-level, a year behind, or trending below grade-level. An “A” when trending a year behind does not mean the same as an “A” on grade-level. There are other important indicators that data can show too, like any behavior issues or concerns. This teacher was so valuable to me because she taught me how to read my child’s report card in a data-literate way – digging deeper into the data to learn how to best support my children.
The collaboration from this parent-teacher conference led to a partnership that allowed me not only to understand the data for myself, as a parent, but also as an advocate by increasing my knowledge when speaking with policymakers. Through the years, I have continued to engage this teacher for her thoughts and concerns, and she now attends meetings with local policymakers to share how important data is to improving student outcomes.
Data-literate teachers are so valuable to parents and students because they understand both the importance of data and that there is more to a student than just what the numbers or grades say. A data-literate teacher can collect data from multiple sources and use that information to create an educational plan that supports each child’s unique style of learning. Data literacy also helps these teachers draw conclusions about students to better communicate achievement as well as specific growth opportunities. The ability to understand data allows teachers to customize lessons to the needs of the students, and this improve student outcomes. Data-literate teachers use data to meet students where they are, while at the same time addressing grade-level standards and criteria. When teachers are data-literate, parents are better engaged in their child’s learning and students succeed.
This blog is the third in a four-part series published in support of Teacher Data Literacy Week. See our first blog for more on the value of teacher data literacy to student success and our second blog to learn what teacher data literacy looks like in practice from a teacher himself. Check back tomorrow for our final blog examining what state leaders can do to make teacher data literacy possible!
This blog is also available as a story on Medium.