Collecting data

I got excited when I saw this article:

The Ultimate Guide to Data Collection in the Classroom

I’ve worked with people who talk about “data driven decisions” but really talk about it at the 10 000 foot level. People leave from talks like that frustrated since they often feel like the target was missed. That’s easy to happen when you have a generic talk but there are eager people who want to get to the practical.

If you follow the link in the article looking for the examples, you’ll end up at the Teachers Pay Teachers website with a broken link. (like I did). This link should be a bit more successful. This second link will take you to EducationWorld with a number of free templates.

The best advice from the original article was this

Before you can begin collecting any data, you need to know exactly what you are trying to learn from the data that will be gathered.

There’s a great deal of wisdom in that statement.

For purposes like data collection, it has me a hater disliker of the golden template and the distribution of it as the ultimate answer. No two teachers and no two classrooms are identical with the same needs and requirements.

I actually think that a better approach is to go beyond the “Big Idea” and consider that it’s time to get your hands dirty. Take a template if you must and truly analyse it to see if it does what you need and what you require. Then, spend some time making it yours. That will probably mean removing some suggestions and adding your own.

For those navel gazers and their 10 000 foot level approach, there needs to be a level of practicality. If your approach is to use a Spreadsheet for the task, the true value comes from showing how to customise the tool for the desired purpose, not just how to fill in the cells.

Once that’s mastered, then the original article has a nice collection of suggestions for collecting and using the data. But let’s not forget that the reason why there is a human in the room. It’s not to fill in a form for someone else, it’s to truly glean insights from planning and observation.

It works best when you have the perfect tool and only you can make that decision.


4 thoughts on “Collecting data

  1. Doug, love your insight to the ultimate focus of taking data. First we ask, ‘why now.’ What is the reason behind the data collection? I believe in gathering data to show parents exactly where the child began and then to take a look at what needs to improve to close the gap. Secondly, the data creates a specific focus on where it drives instruction. For example, a Sept survey, allowed me to see that my S’s had problems deciphering the middle vowels and couldn’t decode the sounds. So I implemented a specific phonics program (Blevins). Along with shared reading, guided reading and the continued phonic focus; the gains are incredible. I continue to gather data regarding vowel sounds, reading levels, with fluency and comprehension. As well, a digital portfolio assist with illustrations of where students are to the next steps are crucial to show parents improvement. Data is huge, but the ‘why now’ is vital understanding where past students have encountered issues and where the teacher needs to take the next step. I’ve never used a template, guess I’m a different sort of numbers geek. Data is huge. Thanks for your blog! It always helps me:)


    1. What an awesome explanation. This shows the true value of collecting and analyzing data. To be informed and take action upon considering it.


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