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Understanding historical trends and patterns in student data


Educators, students and families have experienced historic learning disruptions over the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Student achievement, predicted to decline in current chaos, has revealed its fragile nature The 2020-2022 NAEP long-term trend results were recently released. The report showed the first-ever drop in math scores and the biggest drop in reading performance since the 1980s.

Effective analysis of student data

As educators address this new landscape, precise interventions to accelerate student learning are required. High-quality data remain to know what type of intervention a student needs an important element for educators. Teacher review and understanding of student data will guide instructional decisions and create positive outcomes for all students.

Analyzing student data properly is a skill worth developing. Teachers need:

  • View previous intervention results
  • Determine each student’s current learning needs
  • Choose the best intervention that meets these needs
  • Measure the effectiveness of interventions

To understand previous efforts to meet students’ learning needs, instructors can view historical data trends to see a complete picture of a student’s learning progress.

Collecting and analyzing multiple data points over weeks and months is the most accurate method of informing instruction. Pulling out a single data point for use can be tempting, especially when the pressure to intervene is strong, but caution is advised here. A single data point can show an aberration. When educators act on a single data point, they may make unnecessary interventions that waste time. Taking the long view by analyzing long-term data and identifying historical trends and patterns provides a solid foundation for making instructional decisions.

Historical trends: An effective measure of student mastery

Viewing historical trends in student data allows you to see the lows and highs of a student’s performance over time and helps educators identify where a student is making progress and where they are falling short. Only a few data points over months and sometimes years can accurately reflect a student’s mastery level. The Student Data Review, which begins in November each year, provides educators with qualitative and quantitative characteristics of student performance that can be useful for future instruction.

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