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Teachersí Use of Assessment Data to Inform Instruction: Lessons From the Past and Prospects for the Future


by Amanda Datnow & Lea Hubbard ó 2015

Background Data use has been promoted as a panacea for instructional improvement. However, the field lacks a detailed understanding of how teachers actually use assessment data to inform instruction and the factors that shape this process.

Purpose: This article provides a review of literature on teachersí use of assessment data to inform instruction. We draw primarily on empirical studies of data use that have been published in the past decade, most of which have been conducted as data-driven decision making came into more widespread use. The article reviews research on the types of assessment data teachers use to inform instruction, how teachers analyze data, and how their instruction is impacted.

Research Design: Review of research.

Findings: In the current accountability context, benchmark assessment data predominate in teachersí work with data. Although teachers are often asked to analyze data in a consistent way, agendas for data use, the nature of the assessments, and teacher beliefs all come into play, leading to variability in how they use data. Instructional changes on the basis of data often focus on struggling students, raising some equity concerns. The general absence of professional development has hampered teachersí efforts to use data, as well as their confidence in doing so.

Conclusions: Given that interim benchmark assessment data predominate in teachersí work with data, we need to think more deeply about the content of those assessments, as well as how we can create conditions for teachers to use assessment to inform instruction. This review of research underscores the need for further research in this area, as well teacher professional development on how to translate assessment data into information that can inform instructional planning.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 4, 2015, p. 1-26
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17848, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 8:15:16 AM

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About the Author
  • Amanda Datnow
    University of California, San Diego
    E-mail Author
    AMANDA DATNOW is a professor in the Department of Education Studies and associate dean of the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. Her research focuses on educational reform, particularly with regard to issues of equity and the professional lives of educators. She is the author of Data Driven Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2014). She is currently conducting a study of how teachers use data to inform differentiated instruction.
  • Lea Hubbard
    University of California, San Diego
    E-mail Author
    LEA HUBBARD is a professor in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. Her work focuses on educational reform and district leadership as well as educational inequities as they exist across ethnicity, class, and gender. Working nationally and internationally, she has coauthored several books and written articles on data-driven decision making, the academic achievement of minority students, gender and education, educational leadership and school reform.
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