You’ve carefully collected and recorded large amounts of student assessment data for your classroom, from MAP® assessments to anecdotal observations, but what’s the best way to get this information into the hands of your students?
Conducting student conferences is one effective method of making meaning out of assessment data. In addition to allowing for shared accountability, conferences give students the opportunity to analyze and interpret data in a way that is personally meaningful and empowering. By integrating analytical data with anecdotal and observational data, you can get a more complete picture of who your students are and what are their learning needs.
When using data to conduct student conferences, the data should present a holistic view of the student and be shared with students so that they essentially become stakeholders in the process of using data to support and inform learning. The data can be used as a jumping-off point for communicating with students about where they are, and set goals for where they would like to be.
Preparing Students for Conferences
Prior to the conference, students must be adequately prepared and provided with guidelines for the conference. It cannot be assumed that students will possess the self-confidence, organizational skills, and communication skills necessary to lead a successful conference. To help students gain confidence, set up role-play situations, provide students with forms, prompts, and the necessary time to collect, prepare, interpret and reflect on the assessment data they will use to guide the conference.
Christopher Hull, in his blog post How to Use Data In Student Conversations, suggests reflection questions that can be used to help students prepare for conferences:
- How is school going, in general?
- What has been your favorite unit/project? Please explain why.
- What is your favorite activity outside of school? I follow this question up with: How do you get better at ___ (their favorite activity)?
- How would you evaluate me as a teacher? How as a teacher can I help you more in the classroom?
- If you could do this past unit over, what would you have done differently?
- What did you learn during our last unit?
During the Conference
A key component of using data to conduct student conferences is to use multiple types of data to inform a more holistic picture of the student and how they are progressing. For example, grades, behavior observations, an engagement rubric, and standards proficiency data can all be used to guide the conversation.
Students can point to specific work that reflects the grades they’ve received such as scoring guides from project work, test scores, homework assignments, class participation and collaboration checklists, or rubrics that assess engagement. Students can also share learning goals, accomplishments, strengths, and areas needing improvement. When students take responsibility for reflection and sharing during conferences, the increased accountability moves the student from passive recipient of information to an active participant that is invested in both the process as well as the outcome.
To learn more, visit Using MAP Data with Students and view an example of how MAP® assessment data is used to discuss progress and set goals with a student.
Benefits of Using Data in Student Conferences
Data points are helpful for articulating where the students currently are and identifying the goals they are striving toward. By sharing and utilizing assessment data with your students, you can make it meaningful in a way that helps to inform instruction and provide a holistic picture of each student and their learning needs. Your students will begin to see how data is useful for understanding their personal progress, and they will gain self-confidence and personal satisfaction from being directly involved in the conferences.
In what ways do you use data in student conferences? Join the conversation and share your expertise with other community members by replying to the discussion below.