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3 Ways Data Supports Personalized Learning

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 -- Madison Michell

It’s no secret; the pressure to collect more and more data that pinpoints student progress is high. But, between all of the standardized tests, interim assessments, daily exit tickets, and educator observations, how do you make time to put that data to use and personalize learning? Before you sit down to start analyzing the metrics set before you, it’s important to think about the true role of data in the educational ecosystem. This means reflecting on its importance, while also determining how to actively make time for it while balancing all of the other requirements in your daily schedule.

When time is in short supply, but the data continues to pile up, ensure your data goals are in alignment with your instructional goals in order to provide students with a meaningful, personalized educational experience. Let’s take a look at three main objectives of personalized learning and where data fits.

1. Ensure equity

Personalized learning facilitates equal learning opportunities for those students working below, on, and above grade level. The intent of this approach is to move away from one-size-fits-all education, in favor of understanding each learner as an individual with differing needs and preferences.

But, how do you determine what each student needs? This is where data plays a critical role. It can confirm when a particular intervention is working and conversely, highlight specific skill gaps students may be experiencing. Beyond monitoring your day-to-day data streams to inform instruction, data also plays a key role in understanding the big picture. Periodically, it’s important to step back and analyze the broader situation in your classroom. Digital tools that offer demographic data as well as national norms are helpful to ensure you are facilitating personalized experiences for all students.

2. Raise achievement

Data tools aren’t just about telling you which students “get it” and which don’t as you work through lessons. They’re also intended to help you recognize all of the nuances and alerts in between to support students as they progress toward achievement goals. When educators are armed with intuitive systems that track both progress and achievement, they are able to effectively personalize learning.

These data details are also impactful when working with stakeholders. Whether that means relating progress and struggles to another teacher who will be working with your students in a small group setting or reaching out to parents to help share powerful metrics and encourage skill reinforcement at home, data can drive the conversation that leads to change.

3. Inspire student agency

At the center of personalized learning is the principle that learners should have the opportunity to take greater ownership over their own educational goals. An important way to help do that is by encouraging students to take greater responsibility over their own progress. Students should never wonder what their reading level is or how they’re tracking toward grade level goals. Rather, they should be instrumental in the tracking process.

When students are empowered to manage their own data independently they are able to contribute in important processes such as goal setting and personal reflection. No longer is data consumption and interpretation strictly a teacher’s task. With greater student agency at play, data becomes an integral part of your daily instructional practice.

Ready to learn more about the role data plays in personalized learning? Register for our live webinar and join us as we discuss best practices for leveraging learner data to inform instructional planning and personalize learning!