What data do I have and where is it?

Now that I have identified what skills and knowledge we need to be able to make sense of assessment data, I began wondering about what data we actually have and how it can be used. I created this infographic to help me sort through the main goals of assessment and how the information can be used by different stakeholders in the school. This was a useful step in helping me categorise the sources of data we have to work with at our school and establish where we have gaps.

Making a list of all the sources of data you have in your school is the first step in helping you determine what questions you might be able to answer. For more on this topic, please see my next post.

Screenshot 2018-11-07 at 15.14.29

Here is a list of the sources of data currently available at my school:

Diagnostic sources:

  • Developmental Reading Assessment (Year 1 through Year 6)
  • Reading and writing continuums (all year levels)
  • EAL continuums
  • Number assessment (Nursery through Year 1)
  • Concepts of print checklist (Nursery through Year 2)
  • Alphabetic Principle/Phonics checklist (Reception through Year 3)
  • Basic Math Facts (Year 3 through Year 6)
  • pre-assessment tasks done at the beginning of each unit of inquiry (all year levels)

Formative sources:

  • exit slips
  • concept maps
  • student questions and responses to teacher questions
  • quizzes
  • anecdotal notes from class discussions and small group work
  • student responses to checks for understanding (thumbs up)
  • student reflections
  • work samples
  • photographs and videos
  • portfolios
  • IEPs

Summative sources:

  • unit of inquiry summative tasks (concept maps, written assignments, tests, performance rubrics, etc…)

Evaluative sources:

  • student portfolios
  • report cards
  • International Schools Assessment data (Years 4 through 6)
  • Reports from PYP and CIS evaluations

There is another important source of data that schools will need to be able to analyse their assessment data more purposefully and this is demographic data, such as gender, nationality, language profile, number of years at the school, duration of time in SEN or EAL programmes, etc…

Another way to look at data is through Bernhardt’s 2002 (as cited in Donohoo, 2011) categories. In Collaborative Inquiries, A Facilitator’s Guide, Donohoo shares four categories of data that teachers engaging in collaborative inquiries for school improvement can use. These are:

1. Student Learning Data: Student learning data help schools see the results they are getting now. These data tell schools which students are succeeding academically and which are not. They also guide planning, leadership, partnership, and professional development efforts. While large scale standardised assessments provide a source for student learning data so do the classroom assessments carried out day to day by educators.

2. Demographic Data: Demographic data are needed to describe the school context. These data provide the over-arching context for everything that the school does with respect to school improvement. These contextual data show who the students, staff, and community are and how they have changed over time. Some examples include enrollment, attendance, and language proficiency.

3. Perceptual Data: Perceptual data can tell us about student, parent, and staff satisfaction with the work of the school. Perceptual data can also help the school understand what is possible in the big picture of school improvement and what has been done internally to meet school improvement goals. Perceptual data can be gathered in a variety of ways, such as questionnaires, interviews, and observations.

4. School Process Data: School process data provide staff with information about their current approaches to teaching and learning, programs, and the learning organization. It is these processes that will need to change to achieve different results.

What this means for me:

One of the main issues I’ve encountered is how our data is stored. While we do have student demographic data, most of it is stored in paper files as the school does not yet have a student database where demographic data and assessment data are stored together. While I have created spreadsheets to store DRA and Basic Math Facts data, the rest is done on paper and stored in each child’s assessment folder. This means being able to look for trends, such as the reading progress of girls who’ve been at the school since Nursery, will be extremely time consuming as I will have to create the database from scratch.

I’m also cognisant of the fact that we have a lot of diagnostic and evaluative assessments for language and numeracy, but no common assessments for science or social studies skills. This is something worth bringing back to our middle leadership team for discussion.

Finally, we do also have perceptual data and school process data. The school does yearly parent and staff satisfaction surveys. We have also surveyed parents about their satisfaction with student led conferences and other school wide events to help us improve. Our school process data is captured in our teaching and learning policy and procedure documents. Thankfully due to our recent CIS and PYP evaluations, much of this data is stored in one place so it can be accessed easily.

My next post: What can my data tell me?


Donohoo, J. (2011). Collaborative Inquiry: A Facilitator’s Guide. Retrieved from http://misalondon.ca/PDF/collabpdfs/Collaborative_Inquiry_Guide_2011.pdf

Venables, D. (2014). How Teachers Can Turn Data into Action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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