I've told my teachers many times:
"We don't want to get better by accident; we want to get better on purpose. Data is what allows us to be strategtic."
Because the math benchmark has contained the same questions over the last 3 years, my teachers could actually track the trends on how their students have performed on the same questions. This in depth analysis provides our teachers guidance on how their instruction needs to be tweaked over the coming months. It also reveals which students need to be targeted with certain objectives. This is the essence of "formative assessment" ... and my teachers engaged in it brilliantly,
I am very proud of how my teachers use the data to drive their instruction and increase their effectiveness in the classroom ... but it is my hope that they never lose sight of this: ultimately, it's not about the data; it's about the kids. We did not get into education to raise test scores; we became educators to make a difference in the lives of our students. I loved seeing my teachers write down the names of students who were 1 or 2 points away from proficiency. It is easy to be bogged down in the numbers, but we must remind ourselves that we are not analyzing "data points" ... we are talking about children. Each cell in our spreadsheet represents a student ... their future ... and all of their hopes and dreams. Analyzing the data is useful, but we must never lose sight of what that data represents.