Notes from text
Boudett, City, Murnane
Chapter 3: Creating a Data Overview
Preparing for a faculty meeting:
1. Decide on the educational questions
2. Reorganize your assessment data (simple is better)
3. Draw attention to critical comparisons
4. Display performance trends
The underlying educational questions should also drive every aspect of the presentation of the assessment data and provide a rationale for why it is important to present the data one way rather than another.
For example, the questions you are trying to answer should help you make the following decisions about your data presentation: Do you want to emphasize time trends? Are teachers and administrators interested in cohort comparisons? Is it important to analyze student performance by group? Do you want to focus the discussion on the students who fall into the lowest proficiencies or those who occupy the highest? Do you want to focus the audience's attention on the performance of your school's students relative to the average performance of students in the district or the state?
Understanding how students outside your school perform on the same assessment can provide benchmarks against which to compare the performance of your school's students.
In labeling and explaining graphs showing student performance, it is very important to be clear about whether the display illustrates trends on achievement for the same group over time, or whether it illustrates cohort-to-cohort differences over a number of years in the performance of students at the same grade level.
Components of Good Displays
1. Make an explicit and informative title for every figure in which you indicate critical elements of the chart, such as who was assessed, the number of students whose performance is summarized in the figure, what subject specialty, and when.
2. Make clear labels for each axis in a plot, or each row and column in a table.
3. Make sensible use of the space available on the page, with the dimensions, axes, and themes that are most important for the educational discussion being the most dominant in the display.
4. Keep plots uncluttered and free of unnecessary detail, extraneous features, and gratuitous cross-hatching and patterns.
Actively involve teachers with the data by giving them an opportunity to make sense of the data for themselves, encouraging them to ask questions, and offering them a chance to experience and discuss the actual questions on the test.
In reality, student assessment data is neither weak nor powerful. The real value in looking at this kind of data is not that it provides answers, but that it inspires questions.