As part of student services, we gather and use data in a variety of different ways in order to serve our population. There are several tools that we currently use to achieve this, but I always feel there is so much more we can do. There is currently a fairly even divide in how data is gathered, some digitally and some recorded using handwritten notes. A goal for my department this year was to digitize all existing data and ensure that we had hard digital copies of all existing documentation on students. A huge part of this drive was to allow ease of access when sharing information amongst teachers and other members of the Student Services Department.
Jotform has been the backbone of our department this year. This subscription service allows users to tailor how reports are shared and to whom. We currently use Jotform for two different purposes. The first is to file incident reports and the second is to refer students who may benefit from additional supports. The forms themselves are customizable by the user and so they can be tailored for a number of uses.
Through Jotform teachers are able to file incident reports from either their phone or computer. These are hugely beneficial for my department as they help us identify antecedents, behaviors, and consequences that teachers are seeing and employing in their classrooms. In some cases too we have been able to support teachers and students earlier than if the teacher was going to just make a referral for support. We have also been able to use these reports to analyze times of day when individual students might struggle the most and so introduce specific interventions during those times.
Teachers are also able to use Jotform to refer students who may need additional supports from Student Services. One of the huge advantages of these reports is that they allow teachers to specify which branch of Student Support they feel would most impact their students. This could be from our ESOL teachers, Learning support, or Speech and Language. Teachers are also able to give detailed descriptions of what they have observed from their students, as well as, the interventions that they have already put into place. This has allowed support teachers to come to meetings prepared with ideas of how to support the individual.
One area I am working towards this year is putting the data we gather from the NWEA Map tests to use. In Student Services I have been analyzing data from this Autumn’s MAP test to identify students who show low achievement and low growth and meet with teachers to gather further information. The current pandemic has made gathering this data more difficult than usual as this is an additional factor to think of when analyzing how a student is performing academically.
We also use WIDA testing at my school in order to measure the growth of language learners. The ESOL department at my school just moved their reports from this year and the previous years onto a SharePoint document to allow for easy sharing between departments. This has made a huge difference when analyzing student data and has streamlined the process. Through the use of the WIDA data, we have an additional source of information when determining whether a student may have a learning disability or not.
With all of this aside, I feel as though the way I am using data is still fairly rudimentary. I feel I may be missing something. I am aware that there are many ways technology can be integrated and used to create more seamless ways of gathering, synthesizing, and distributing information, however, I simply lack the experience to know what is the best technology intervention for my department’s services. Fortunately, I have a few new members of staff that I know have served as tech coordinators at their previous schools. I plan to meet with these colleagues to brainstorm how my department can better integrate the use of technology to help us streamline what we do. I am really open to feedback so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.