Unit Three: Analyzing Data

Target Objectives

Learners will be able to analyze identified student data, using related computer programs for data analysis when needed.

Unit Objectives

  • Identify steps of the data analysis method
  • Identify the effectiveness and benefits of computer programs for data analysis
  • Discriminate types and understand benefits of hand data analysis
  • Demonstrates construction of data analysis charts
  • Objectively interprets results from computer programs and data analysis charts

Lesson One

Data analysis can occur in two ways - through software programs on computers or through simple pencil and paper methods. You’ll explore the uses of both methods and focus on data analysis that can be done by hand as these methods do not require specialized materials.

Read the following article about computer programs that assist in analyzing data, and then respond to the following questions, using information from the article to support your responses. Again, your responses may be in the form of a paragraph, bulleted list, graphic organizer, or any form with which you are comfortable.

Media:Di_unit3_lesson1.pdf “Using a Curriculum-Based Instructional Management System to Enhance Math Achievement in Urban Schools” by Ysseldyke et al. This article reports on a study of the use of Accelerated Math, a computer-based program designed to help students improve math skills. Ysseldyke et al (2003) identify instructional match and academic learning time as two significant components of preparing students for success, and they investigate the role Accelerated Math takes in providing these components to students.

1. Explain two ways software data analysis is beneficial to teachers and students.
2. If you were to design your own software for data analysis, what elements would be included and be helpful for your classroom?

Lesson Two

Take a look at this chapter from “Hooked on Data” that gives step by step directions on one way to analyze data without a computer. The result of this nine-step process is the division of the information into four quartiles, modeling after the four grading categories from state assessments.


Once you have read through the procedure, try it out with data from your own testing information. You can use test scores from a unit test, a midterm, a final, or any other meaningful assessment. Teachers with more than once section should analyze each section separately for easier use later. Once you have completed your analysis, look at the final results. Reflect on the following questions in any form you choose:

1. Are you surprised by any of the information? For instance, are the distributions within each quartile what you expected? Are the medians higher or lower than you would have thought?
2. Now that you see how individual students are performing in relation to state testing categories, what can you do to help those students who are performing below the standards?

If you have any questions about how to complete this activity, use the discussion space to ask fellow participants for assistance.

Lesson Three

Now that you have a general idea of how the data is distributed in your class or classes, we’ll take a look at a different way to make the analysis more personal and more meaningful for student learning by finding out more specifically in which areas students are struggling.

This analysis requires a little more preparation from the teacher in that teachers should identify four to five categories of questions that are frequently a part of assessments. For example, categories in reading might be narrative, expository, technical, and persuasive, based on the subtest categories from state assessments (Reed 2006). Science categories might include vocabulary, inferences, interpreting charts and graphs, and making comparisons. You could also choose to align test questions with specific state standards. Whichever way you choose to do it is fine because it will give you and your students a better idea of how they perform with specific material.

Once the questions have been assigned to a category, the students have performed the test or assessment, and the scores have been determined, you can start individual student analysis. One way to do this is to have students complete a sheet in which they mark down which questions they answered correctly and incorrectly in each category. Then, they can determine the percentage of questions correct in each category. (This method works for secondary students. Elementary teachers may want to complete the sheets and percentages for the students.)

Here is an example of a blank sheet I created and used. Media:Ind_data_sheets.pdf

A few friendly tips when using these sheets…

Try to assign each question to only one category – the end percentages will be misleading if questions belong to more than one category
Make sure students know how to find percentages – many of them try to divide the smaller number into the larger number and get more than 100% in each category… which is not possible!

Upon completion of this activity, you and your students will be able to see in which areas they are lacking proficiency and need more practice for mastery. From here, you can differentiate instruction to give individual students activities that will help them to improve their weaker areas (which we will be looking at in the next unit). Also, this information can help you as a teacher see if there are any areas of your instruction that need improvement. For instance, I noticed that many students were struggling with knowing vocabulary so I started reviewing vocabulary more often throughout class and in activities.


You’ve done a lot in this unit! Reflect upon your experiences by responding to the following questions in any form you choose:

1. Give three ways that data analysis could be beneficial to your classroom. How do you think it could improve student performance or motivation?
2. In what ways would you alter the activities above to make it better fit for you, your students, and your purposes?
3. Which method of data analysis, software or by hand, do you think would work better for you? Explain.
Use the discussion space to share your ideas on data analysis with other participants.

Resources and References

Reed, S.L. (2006). Hooked on Data: The Classroom Teacher’s Guide to Making Data Analysis Easy. The MASTER Teacher, Inc.; Manhattan, KS.

Ysseldyke, J., Spicuzza, R. , Kosciolek, S., Teelucksingh, E., Boys, C., & Lemkuil, A. (2003). Using a curriculum-based instructional management system to enhance math achievement in urban schools. Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 8 (2), 247-265.

Go on to Unit Four: Implementing Differentiated Instruction

Back to Data analysis for differentiated instruction

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