Are You a Growth Seeker or Scorekeeper? Take This Quiz to Find Out How You Use Data

Are You a Growth Seeker or Scorekeeper? Take This Quiz to Find Out How You Use Data


Are you a data maven? A perceptive? A traditionalist?

No two teachers are alike. Our research involving more than 4,600 educators suggests that while virtually all teachers now use data to inform instruction in some way, how they use data depends on a variety of factors, including their own comfort level with technology and the ability of their schools to support them.

Take the following quiz to see how your approach to data stacks up. Bear in mind that age and experience have little to do with these categories—it’s more about mindset, the availability of digital tools that enable the use of data, and the presence of supports to help teachers work with data and technology.

1. Which of these most closely describes how you use data?

  • a. The more data, the better.
  • b. I use data to adjust what and how I teach.
  • c. Data helps me drive instruction, but they are often overwhelming.
  • d. I use data to adapt instruction with a laser focus on preparing students for the state assessment.
  • e. I observe students myself to determine where to reteach. I am not a numbers person and have not seen digital tools that can do this for me.
  • f. I use student grades as a basis for adapting my instruction. It’s the fastest and easiest way to see how my students are doing and to decide what’s next.

2. How do you feel about digital tools that can help you use data?

  • a. I’m the first to adopt tools that focus on personalization.
  • b. I’m an early adopter, but especially when I have support using tools provided by my school, district, or CMO.
  • c. I feel like I don’t have the time to investigate tools.
  • d. I’m most familiar with my gradebook and assessment data, and less sure about what other data to use.
  • e. I think digital tools that work with data are inconvenient or unproven.
  • f. I find digital tools that work with data too difficult to figure out on my own.

3. Which of these statements most closely matches how you talk about using data?

  • a. “A student history would enable us to create a learning plan for the student … it would come in with them the day they walked in [and] we could ... start immediately teaching the students according to their needs.”
  • b. “I always like to use my assessments more as a learning log, so I can see what they learned, how I can improve.”
  • c. “We have ... planned out ... this backward map of what we want to accomplish ... based on our unit maps. But then, based on what we see kids actually doing, that may dictate where we go.”
  • d. “I find looking at [standardized test] scores very helpful, because I can differentiate.”
  • e. “More than tests, it’s looking at student performance every day, having an observation log, and noticing that [his or her] back is to the teacher. Those little pieces help us determine if this kid needs extra support.”
  • f. “What I became a teacher for was to develop fun, cool lessons … I just want to teach.”

Take a look at your answers. Did you pick the same letter for all (or two of the three) questions? If so, you may fall into one of the following categories:

  • a. Data maven. The earliest of early adopters, data mavens are likely to focus on a wide range of data, including trends, student growth, individual strengths and weaknesses, and student engagement.
  • b. Growth seeker. Not only do growth seekers use data to differentiate instruction for students, they also use data to help adjust how they teach.
  • c. Aspirational users. Believers in the potential of data to differentiate instruction, aspirational users vary instructional strategy to meet student needs, but may feel overwhelmed by data without additional support.
  • d. Scorekeepers. Focused on adapting instruction to meet needs identified by assessments, scorekeepers are adept at unit analysis and identifying misconceptions and threshold scores on state exams.
  • e. Perceptives. Believers in adjusting instruction based on what they see in the classroom, perceptives focus on observing students and encouraging them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.
  • f. Traditionalists. Using grades as their primary guide, traditionalists adapt instruction based on how students perform in their classes.

None of these labels are pejorative. Virtually all teachers in each category use data—and are committed to changing up instruction to meet their students’ needs. As we’ve written before, the challenge is often that the amount of data teachers have available to them can be overwhelming without digital tools to help them separate the signal from the noise. But many of these tools still have a long way to go in terms of being able to support all teachers. What's more, we have found that schools that support the adoption of technology are far more likely to have teachers who are at the leading edge of data use.

What that means is that we need better tools—and we need schools to invest in technology and the staff to support it, as well as the dedicated time and flexibility for teachers to make sense of data and work together to use it effectively.

This article was sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and not written by the EdSurge editorial staff.
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