Data, data, data. The plural of datum, or a character on Star Trek, TNG? The bane of grad students existence everywhere? A way for the state to impose its ideals on schools? No! Data is part of a tool set every educator should know and be able to use.
Do we as educators really look at data that our students generate for us? Lets take absenteeism. If members of your class are late or absent on a particular day all the time, is it a coincidence or a pattern? Could it be that the student is always absent on Monday due to transition patterns in a split family (one parent on the weekend, one during the week)? Are secondary students late because they work a job at night and are very tired?
How about teacher generated data collecting instruments (quizzes and tests). Do we examine results question by question? Is time taken to look at a gap analysis and figure out which of the wrong answers really were wrong answers or faulty logic when students thought about a problem.
I previously presented at the NYSCSS conference about the use of data analysis in the classroom. One key finding in my research was the student interview portion (qualitative) part is almost always forgotten by teachers when data analysis is undertaken. Talk to the students (at least three- one is an event, two could be a coincidence, three is a pattern). Have them walk through their thinking on a question they chose the wrong answer on. It will serve two purposes: 1) help the student understand the right answer, and 2) help you craft a lesson that will head off the incorrect thinking before the summitative assessment (test).