By Dennis Pierce
A growing number of schools are giving students regular access to their own achievement data, so they can monitor their learning trajectory—and this is having a huge impact on student performance.
When students are encouraged to follow their own progress toward mastering standards on a regular basis—and not just when grades come out every nine weeks—“they’re more likely to take more ownership of their own learning,” said Ann Ware, the former project leader for the Consortium for School Networking’s Data-Driven Decision Making initiative.
Many K-12 leaders are looking for safe and appropriate ways to give students more frequent access to their own data, Ware said—and “technology is enabling that to happen.”
Students are being given their own secure logins to student information systems and learning management systems, so they can identify where their learning gaps are and chart their own progress.
Some schools encourage their students to attend parent-teacher conferences and lead the discussion by referring to their own achievement data, while others have students put together their own learning plans with the help of their teacher.
At Georgia’s Henry County Schools, teachers and administrators are empowering students to take ownership of their learning by giving them 24-7 access to their own data, according to this video from the Gates-funded “Closing the Gap: Turning Data into Action” project.
“(We’ve) taken data and put it in the hands of the kids to say, ‘Here’s the standard we want you to learn, here are the different assessments we’ve done. What’s your progress on those standards, and how can you talk about that?’” said Assistant Superintendent Aaryn Schmuhl.
Herman Mason, an eighth-grade math teacher at Locust Grove Middle School, says it’s not enough that he has access to student data as a teacher: “We really want to try to empower the students to help themselves.”
According to one student, this effort is paying off.
“I took a homework assignment and made a 52. Using (our student information system), I was able to go back and see my mistakes. It showed me the standard and what questions were associated with the standard, and (I) was able to … see what I needed to work on,” said eighth-grade student Briana Willis.
She added: “I love having access to the information, because it helps me keep tabs on myself, and it also gives me a sense of responsibility. It has improved my grades a tremendous amount.”
Principal Tony Townsend said students lead their own parent-student-teacher conferences, where they are able to “intelligently speak about where the gaps were in their learning, based on the fact that they monitored their own progress.” He said it’s “absolutely priceless to be able to have those discussions with our students.”
Decisions about what kinds of information students should have access to will vary from district to district, Ware said. But, at a minimum, this should include formative and summative assessment data, she said—and “hopefully the data is shown to them graphically, so they can quickly digest where they are and where they need to be.”