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Data Informed Instruction from a 360 Degree Perspective

Apr 20, 2012


When I use to go to the track, by track I mean a track where the runners have four legs. There was a bet you could make called wheeling a horse. Wheeling was an expensive bet because it covered all the combinations. The bet is used when you are sure you knew the winner and you wanted to cover all possible finish combinations that had your horse finishing in first place. For example, if you bet a trifecta (pick the order of the first three horses) and you wheeled “Lucky Lou” as long as Lou won the race it didn’t matter which horses came in second and third because your wheel bet covered all possible combinations so you were guaranteed to win the bet.

So what does this have to do with k-12 data informed instruction? 

In the K-12 data analysis world we look at student performance. All data analysis is based on a lens that looks at the student performance data. There is nothing wrong with that and if I had to design a data analysis system it would start with the student. 

We of course need to measure student strengths and deficiencies. Notice student strengths came first because I believe measuring student strengths is just as important as measuring weaknesses. If you are not adjusting things like instruction, curriculum, and scope and sequence, based on the students that understand these concepts then valuable time is being wasted and time is in very short supply and must be grudgingly rationed. 

If students understand the concept then move on to the next learning standard, don’t have a do over for the kids that get it. Now, I am not suggesting that you don’t re-teach. It is critical that the students that do not understand the concept get remediation. In a typical classroom there will need to be flexible groups not based on ability levels but on which students understand the concept and which students need more help with a concept. These groups may change frequently that’s why they are called flexible.

A Different Look at K12 Data Analysis

I think it’s time for a different look at data to the traditional k-12 data analysis often called data driven instruction. I believe we should wheel our data bet. Below is a picture prepared by Jason Skinner, from a from a business journal talking about a 360 degree look at data that shows the relationship of business intelligence to competitive advantage. Look and the picture and think about K-12 data analysis. Is K-12 any different? The Competitive Advantage is translated to improving student achievement. Look at the questions, K-12 can ask the same questions.


A 360 degree look is different. Traditional data analysis uses student as the key starting point. With only the single key focal data point (student) it can be difficult to see all the factors when putting together a complete data analysis of the district. How do you get the answers to:

  • Why is this happening?
  • What will happen next?
  • What is the best that can happen next?

In order to get answers to these questions you must be able to look in all directions and change the perspective to look at other key factors. For example, it’s easy to see how students performed on a learning standard in a traditional data analysis system. What is not easy is to make the learning standard the key and then see how a selected standard preformed longitudinally and vertically.

Changing the view perspective and looking through the lens of the learning standard as the key for data analysis results in an entirely different point of view, where the learning standard is centric producing a different view of the data. It can answer questions like what group of students performed best on the inference standard, or which grade level did poorly on algebraic concepts learning standard.

Perhaps you want to look at all the data associated with a teacher as the centric key. A 360 degree data analysis tool could gather the information on students’ academic performance, standards mastery by students, demographics of students, assessment performance, across multiple years for a teacher or group of teachers. Blow is a visual example of how the data could flow.

Powerful 360 degree analysis systems can produce the type of information that will result in the ability to not only discover needs and intervene to resolve but predict what may occur and intervene in time to stop the problem from occurring.

Now back to the track. I highly recommend you spend some time there people watching. It is an amazing cross section of society and any study of psychology or sociology would benefit from the experience. And it’s just plain fun. Down the Stretch They Come

For more K-12 educational data information download this white paper.

Category: explanatory

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