Dealing with Data in Your PLC

Much has been said about PLCs and their use of data to inform instruction. What I discovered early in the process of working with PLCs on common assessments was that too much data is detrimental, as is data that is too detailed. I want to advocate a strategy for reporting proficiency that is easy to analyze and easy to respond to. It consists of two basic steps.

1. Identify general categories (solving equations, lab safety, brake systems)

You don’t want to know how every student did on every question. You really don’t even want to know what the class as a whole did on every question. What you do care about is student proficiency in broad categories. Does Jakeem know the process for changing an oil filter? Can he change break pads? Keep the topics broad by basing them on your essential standards or on topics designated by the PLC as targets for the grading period.

2. Reduce proficiency data to YES/NO

The grade book generally requires definite grades, but in the process of determining how to respond to an assessment, whether formative or summative, you can make your life easier by reducing those numbers to mere YES or NO. Is Jakeem proficient in lab safety or not? Does he understand food chains or not?

So you end up with something that looks like this Proficiency Table.

This report tells the teacher to deliver a whole new lesson, and perhaps a new approach or just a lot of practice, on subject-verb agreement. For pronouns, however, only four students require intervention, while the others might focus on other topics.

I hope this strategy will help your PLC become more efficient and more effective, as you attempt to improve student learning by respond to data. As always, let me know how I can help.

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