Students know best
Data based teaching means deciding what to teach and/or how to teach based on frequent measures of student performance. It reflects a commitment to validate that the students are learning what the teacher is teaching. The strategy is sometimes called curriculum-based measurement (or CBM). The curriculum determines both what we teach and what we measure. However, CBM is not “teaching to the test.” Instead, it is “testing whether we have taught.” Check with the National Center for Progress Monitoring for more information about CBM.
Usually, the student performance data we obtain are charted (i.e., graphed) and the teacher reviews the chart frequently for evidence of progress. When student progress is acceptable, the teacher knows to continue. On the other hand, failing to see desired student progress would cause the teacher to change some aspect of the teaching. Educational researchers have shown that this method is just about the most important one that a teacher can implement to ensure effective teaching.
N.B.: At TIEE, we prefer the term “chart” to the term “graph” because the word “chart” implies a course or direction whereas the word “graph” is merely a way to display data.
Necessary ingredients for data based teaching
Data based teaching implies all of the following for the teacher or therapist:
- we know what the students must learn;
- we measure the behavior(s) that tells us whether students are learning;
- we display the measurement so that we can decide whether progress is acceptable;
- we measure often enough so that course correction, if necessary, is easy to make; and
- we actually make the corrections in a timely manner.
Our professional staff members have their own computers and the paraprofessionals have access to the many other computers in our schools, so student performance data can be entered daily and displayed on standard charts for evaluation.
Weekly data shares help
Our staffs gather weekly to share data displays, which serves several functions. Newer staff members get familiarized with data based teaching more readily, student growth that is greater than expected can be celebrated, and problems have an opportunity for group problem solving.