With the emergence of data analytics and innovative tech tools, data-driven decision making has become standard practice in many organizations, including school districts and individual schools. This revolution in how people approach making decisions led Fresno Pacific University to offer a data-driven decision making course specifically designed for teachers.
Data has long been part of education. But data-driven educational decision making now refers to a specific process in which educators examine standardized assessment data and quickly identify student strengths and deficiencies. They then apply those findings to how they approach teaching in the classroom.
The Fresno Pacific University online Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers course allows teachers to earn professional development (PD) credits that go toward maintaining their teaching certificate. It also teaches them how to take advantage of tech tools and better understand a data-driven approach to education.
“In this course, teachers learn how data can help them assess student performance, and also how to use technology to make their lessons better and more meaningful for students,” said Linda Jacobsen, who teaches the Fresno Pacific course. During a teaching career that spanned almost four decades, Jacobsen said she learned the advantages of “integrating technology into my lessons and helping others do the same.”
What Data-Driven Decisions Are Important for Teachers
In some ways, taking a data-driven decision making course has become a necessity for teachers. Most use curriculums that require students to meet certain standards in a certain time frame. Using data allows them to quickly identify where students have experienced problems and focus lessons on those areas.
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development noted that with each passing year, school districts, administrators and teachers face more pressure than ever to have students meet statewide standards. In most states, schools get rated for their effectiveness, and much of that rating is based on student performance on standardized tests.
“As a result, the notion of data-driven decision making has steadily gained credence, and it has become crucial for classroom teachers and building-level administrators to understand how to make data-driven educational decisions,” the ASCD wrote.
In addition to data from standardized tests and assessments, teachers also can use data from summative assignments (such as classroom tests and quizzes) and formative assessments (such as homework and student reflections) as viable sources of data to test student progress.
What Teachers Learn in the Data-Driven Decision Making Courses
The Fresno Pacific University Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers course focuses not only on the uses of data when working with students, but also on how teachers can communicate better with parents about their child’s progress.
For those who aspire to a leadership role, the course also provides the knowledge needed to use data in the development of instructional strategies.
Learning outcomes in the course include:
- Understanding how data guides curriculum
- Analyzing national and state tests to find areas of need
- Using a team approach to analyze data and develop student action plans
- Developing methods to communicate test results to parents and students
- Using multiple measures when developing student learning plans
- Running reports to determine achievement gaps among significant student subgroups
The online course gives teachers the skills they need to use data-driven decision making to improve how they teach students in the classroom. It’s a skill that becomes increasingly critical with each passing school year.