International school classrooms are very busy places, with lots of opportunities to assess students, both formatively and summatively, throughout the year. Teachers gather a lot of learning information about each student, but often don’t have the time to systematically analyse the data that is collected. In order to resolve this discrepancy, Cairo American College has begun to implement a system of Student Data Driven Dialogues (SDDD), which is a comprehensive way to analyse learning data, not only for individual students, but also entire cohorts.
The process is based on monitoring each student’s specific learning curve throughout the years, in order to be able to give each student the support and attention they need, when they need it. Acknowledging that not all students have the same capabilities, nor the same interests, this initiative allows teachers to be able to more accurately set specific learning goals, and monitor students’ progress annually using the data.
Led by Selena Gallagher, PK-12 Challenge & Enrichment Specialist, each grade level team comes together with the student support service team twice a year. Over the course of a week, each team meets to work collaboratively on the process, with teachers released from class for the duration of the session. Ideally, the process starts by teachers looking at each student’s performance over a specific time frame.“Sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit of distance, so we have the teachers look at the data of students they do not teach. This takes away subjectivity and provides an objective look instead,” explains Gallagher. The timing is usually set so that there is enough time between the first and the second meeting for there to be enough growth, and enough results to be assessed. The second meeting basically serves as an evaluation of students improvement which were highlighted in the first meeting, but also is used to analyze and highlight new ones as well.
Working in a group environment altogether, analyzing each student’s individual performance, serves as a great way for the teachers to share data with each other and consider different opinions. “ We start off by looking at big picture data, like reading levels. There are no student names at this point, which allows us to just focus on the data and not the student,” she adds.
In general the feedback from this collaborative process is very good. While the teachers may have found it a little frustrating at first, especially having to take away classroom time to devote to these group sessions, eventually it became clear that the value that these sessions offer the teachers and students far outweighs the hour or two it takes teachers out of the classroom. “It has definitely helped students get the support they need. The process has lead to lots of different interventions being put in place, either for a whole class or for an individual student.”
After spending two years firmly establishing the process in Elementary School, CAC now plans to expand this systematic data analysis process across the whole school so that everyone can benefit from it.