Can data improve my teaching?

I am required to include an assessment statement on my syllabus and perform CATs (classroom assessment techniques) periodically throughout the semester.

I did my first formal CAT yesterday. I've added a new assignment this semester (group wiki), so I asked them to write down strengths and areas to improve on the assignment. We then discussed it, and I told them my ideas for improvement also. I use this in conjunction with their final products to help me improve my teaching for next semester or possibly future assignments if applicable.

That is my background on assessment.

I've enjoyed reading Eduwonkette's week on data-driven posts and appreciated the link to Scott McLeod's data resource page where I found an article that made the parent side of me salivate.

❝Stage-three schools shift the focus from groups to individual students — every single, individual student.❞

McIntire discusses how schools can say that they focus on all students but most don't have the systems in place to do so. I've had friends whose districts say they differentiate, but they don't feel the district follows that mission statement at all.

Differentiating is the buzzword right now, but it is hard to implement without support.

❝In stage-three schools, school leaders establish structures of accountability that ensure teachers regularly analyze student performance data, talk about it in functional units, and enact specific action plans at the classroom, team, grade, and school level.❞

Of course to do that requires time for teachers to meet together in teams, which they should be doing anyway.

❝How can teachers hope to provide customized instruction to dozens or even hundreds of students?❞

But they can, and do. I've seen it.

Using data to improve instruction shouldn't be overrelied on but if used with commonsense can help more kids learn. Off to read Datawise now.