Jess Sanders

Becoming "data-savvy" educators

Discussion created by Jess Sanders on Sep 15, 2016


Becoming “data-savvy” empowers educators to overcome fears about assessment and build a classroom culture that engages, supports, and stretches students. So, what does it take to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively connect data to instruction?


I recently read interviews with educators Chris Hull and Ruth Schackmann in which they discussed ways that training programs and on-the-job learning prepared them for managing the process and expectations of assessment. Hull teaches 7th grade social studies in Chicago and Schackmann teaches English Language Arts in Texas.


Hull recounted how, as a middle schooler, his father would ask him to use statistical evidence to support assertions such as “Ken Griffey, Jr. is the best center fielder in baseball.” Beginning at an early age, Hull learned to appreciate the value of data and analytics to answer questions, inform decisions, and substantiate claims.


Hull believes that understanding how other industries use data can provide lessons to teachers. As he puts it:


“ is not unique to education. But education data is unique. Looking at how other industries or sectors use numbers should help us inform how to bring assessment and data to education. We should not copy what other sectors do – marketing analytics, or private business analytics, or sports analytics, or military analytics all have a driving question that is different than education, but the lessons these groups have learned can help us best put into practice connecting data to instruction.”


In his pursuit of greater data literacy, Hull’s background and comfort with numbers helped him, but the unique aspects of educational data required more than a receptive mindset. Hull talked about the importance of reading background information, sketching out his own ideas, and having discussions. Independent study, combined with talking to others about the material, served him best in learning about assessments.


For Schackmann, her first experience with data came from implementing MAP testing in her district. “Once I realized how much data improved students’ time in my class, I was hooked,” she said in the interview. Schackmann believes that using MAP test reports to create leveled lessons for students worked the best to help her learn about assessments.


Visit the Assessment Literacy blog to read these interviews in their entirety.


A Conversation with Chris Hull

A Conversation with Ruth Schackmann


Afterwards, reflect on the following questions asked and share your experiences in the comments section below.

  • How did you become knowledgeable about assessments and using data once you were in the classroom?
  • What worked best to help you learn about assessments?


Image courtesy of the blue diamond gallery