I’ve Collected Data. Now What?

Article by Katie Currens
By the end of the year it is not uncommon to see files no longer in drawers, but resting on desks and cabinets throughout a classroom. It’s not because educators have become lazy. Rather, they’ve collected so much data and evidence of student growth that they can no longer fit all the files in their respective places. As the school year ends there is often a debate of “what’s next?” What should one do with all this data now that the student has completed this year?

The first instinct may be that those files could be used to kick off one heck of a summer bonfire. There’s no denying that anyone that has ever found themselves surrounded by so many documents has had a similar fleeting thought. However, there are practical ways to handle the information gathered, ensuring your documentation for that student doesn’t get left behind. This work was done to know students’ strengths and areas of needed growth. What better than to save and share that knowledge in a meaningful way.

  • If you’re worried about space in your file cabinet or must clear out your room, use a plastic bin to store the documents for the summer. Alphabetize the files as you put them in so you can easily find a file when needed.
  • Send home any documents you’ve saved for a portfolio. Include a summary of skills that will allow parents to know what areas their child has improved as well as areas they could continue practicing. Sending home portfolios with no feedback is not helping the student or family know how they progressed throughout the year.
  • Parents are often looking for ways to support their kids over the summer. If you’ve been collecting data on a student, share your findings with the parents or guardians by attaching the documentation. We all know of skills kids can work on, but parents can’t read our minds. Be explicit with what they should continue to work on as well as a few tips for how to get it done. As the experts of the field parents appreciate any and all guidance regarding their child.
  • Urban schools often see transient populations. Sending home documents that detail skills more in depth than some report cards can be helpful to families knowing they are moving. Likewise, keep a copy on hand in case a school requests information for newly transferred students.
  • Consider giving necessary documents to your administrator or school psychologist if there is a student being evaluated for an Individual Education Plan, Behavioral Improvement Plan, or other specific need. Evidence collection is key in situations like this, plus they will be able to provide more specific guidance on which documents are of value and which no longer need to be filed.

As always, it’s important to remember that student data and information is private information and should not be distributed freely. Likewise, when the time does come to clear out your files consider sending documents home, or having them shredded to keep things confidential.

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