As an administrator, you don’t directly teach students, yet you play a vital role in their progress. You provide resources and guidance to teachers, empowering them to deliver targeted, customized instruction. These days teacher resources must include ways to ensure that distance learners advance adequately. Teaching remote learners requires changing some traditional instructional practices to prevent distance learners from disengaging.
How do teachers know what they need to change? You can provide some professional development about research-backed strategies. However, there is still a bit of trial and error involved in discovering what works best in their specific situation and student population.
To see what strategies work best, teachers and principals need to monitor student progress systematically and measure the effect rate of interventions. How can they figure out which instructional methods are serving their specific group of distance learners? They would have to analyze the data from their learning population.
The Gap between the Goal and the Reality
Educators love talking about the benefits of data-driven instruction. Yet you must ask yourself, how often do teachers use detailed data analysis as a driving force for their instructional decisions? Probably not as much as you would like. Why is there such a disconnect between the ideal and actual practices?
You may want to ask teachers, “What holds you back from implementing data in more of your instructional decisions?”
You will probably get an earful describing the labor-intensive methods for organizing data points into useful information. Most teachers and principals already well worked beyond their contract hours before the pandemic. Now, many feel as though they are drowning at work. Keeping up-to-date with data organization feels like a pie-in-the-sky dream. The stresses of providing quality education remotely only exacerbates the problem. Yet, remote learners need data-driven instruction even more than face-to-face learners do.
Bridging the Gap
What can you do at the district level to bridge the gap between the desire to use data to drive instruction and actually using it? Gathering data points is not a problem. The challenge lies in organizing them in a useful way. Without flexible organizational tools, the data is painstaking to organize. Thus, rendering it almost impossible to use for pivoting instruction.
You can change the way teachers interact with data by providing efficient and easy-to-use tools. The right software organizes thousands of data points and puts data-driven instruction within reach. Lacking useful software leaves teachers with two unfavorable choices. Either they spend hours of personal time, manually tracking and analyzing data- or they admit defeat and stop trying to implement data-driven instruction. One option leads to teacher burnout, and the other choice leads to hunch-driven instruction.
Improve Instruction Quality with more Efficient Data Tools
One tool to dramatically increase efficiency is software with computer-based assessments. The software automatically organizes results from the students’ responses. Computer-based assessments include formative and summative assessments. Whereas formative assessments provide a snapshot of student learning, summative assessments span more material and provide educators with broader learning patterns. Both are important.
As soon as students finish an assessment, teachers quickly see what students have mastered and where interventions are needed. No time wasted creating endless spreadsheets. Teachers may wish to filter all the remote learners to evaluate if the environment affected understanding. Toggling from one domain to another takes only a few clicks.
The more assessments students take, the more data points the system has about individuals and groups of students. The teacher can then quickly analyze what strategies are working, and not working, for remote students. The way to pivot instruction becomes more and more evident.
If a much larger proportion of remote learners answered incorrectly than face-to-face learners did, that provides evidence that the instructional method did not work well for remote learners. Teachers learn two essential pieces of information 1) They need to reteach the concept, and 2) Not to employ that instructional method in future lessons. If an entire grade level scores poorly on a concept, administrators know to investigate further. Perhaps supplemental curriculum resources or professional development would solve the issue.
Computer-based assessments, while always valuable, are especially critical with remote instruction. Face-to-face students give subtle cues, such as slumped shoulders, when they don’t understand. Such feedback is a data point alerting the teacher to intervene. During remote instruction, teachers have fewer behavioral cues and, therefore, must rely heavily on assessments.
The Color-Coded Dashboard and Alert System
Like teaching, driving requires continuous monitoring and adjusting with various conditions. The driver uses gauges to monitor speed, gas levels, and engine temperature. When something needs immediate attention, a beep or light alerts the driver.
Instructional data dashboards provide similar functions. Educators can monitor many measurements all from one place. When someone needs close attention, the dashboard alerts them by showing up in bright red. The color-coded dashboards make it easy for teachers to make informed instructional decisions based on data.
The importance of the dashboard is especially critical with remote learners because gauging engagement is difficult. However, after a few assessments, teachers may notice red alerts on their dashboards, indicating that a student is falling behind. The teacher then knows to take immediate action to help that child succeed.
Districts have many educational dashboards to choose from, and each one has a variety of benefits. Many teachers like eDoctrina because of its flexibility of viewing options. They can look at their whole class, narrow the field to sub-groups, and focus on individuals. This feature puts making data-informed instructional decisions in the hands of teachers.
eDoctrina Offers a Data Solution
eDoctrina is a cloud-based software that integrates computer-based assessments, user-friendly analysis tools, and a student dashboard. Teachers use eDoctrina for:
- Data Reporting
- Question Banks
- RTI – MTSS Goal Tracking
- Online Learning
Most importantly, they like the ability to serve their remote learners with data-driven instruction- and still have time for a personal life.
District administrators like eDoctrina too, but for different reasons. They like it for planning & curriculum mapping, tracking professional development, and monitoring educator accountability.
Not every district has the same needs, so eDoctrina has various levels of support. The Educator Suite provides tools for planning and assessing and an RTI student goal module. The Accountability Suite includes educator effectiveness tools and student learning objectives. Adding auxiliary functions customizes the software license to create the exact tool you need. Giving educators the information they need to pivot instruction for remote learners benefits all learners.