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Expert Connection

TeachingLD provides answers to common questions about teaching students with learning disabilities. We solicit questions (submit your own question), select those that are of general interest, and ask professionals with expertise about those specific aspects of learning disabilities to summarize—in practical terms—the research relevant to those questions. The Editors of TeachingLD have been supported by the un-compensated assistance of people with substantial knowledge and experience in preparing answers.

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Expert Connection Archives

Selecting Useful Data for Teaching—Laura Berry Kuchle

Q:I'm an inclusion teacher who pushes into elementary classrooms. I get lots of test data but I'm not sure what is important. What do you suggest is the most important data I should collect to guide my instruction?—Libby from Philadelphia, PA.
Libby, in today's schools where it may seem as though almost every other sentence includes the word "data," it's no wonder that people wonder how to sort useful data from those that one can, perhaps, safely save for later. For help with this topic, we asked experts at the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII), where Rebecca Zumeta (chair of DLD's committee on Professional Development, Standards, and Ethics) is Deputy Director. Rebecca invited Laura Berry Kuchle, Ph.D., who is a school psychologist on the NCII staff, to address this question. Laura's expert answer follows. Our hats are off to Laura for helping here!—Peggy & JohnL, Co-editors, TeachingLD.org
A:Data help us make better instructional decisions for our students, but sometimes, you’re right, we have access to so many different data that it is hard to know where to focus.  Different kinds of assessments inform different kinds of decisions.  Summative assessments such as unit exams and state achievement tests tell us what students have already learned. Your school probably has ample data to tell you the general areas, such as reading or math, where your students are struggling. What would really help is some simple means of monitoring whether the students are making progress toward important educational goals.