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Data Makes a Difference

October 20, 2015

When Jacelyn entered third grade at Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, New York, she was more than two years below grade level in reading. At the beginning of September, her scores put her at late-kindergarten level, and she could tell she was behind other kids in her class. But her teacher, Jean Hurst, had a plan to help Jacelyn get back on track: use the power of data, and help Jacelyn learn how to use it too.

Like many teachers, Hurst pays close attention to each student in her class, tracking how well they read aloud and how confidently they tackle new words and challenges. But she doesn’t just sit on the data - she shares it with her students, keeping them in the loop about their progress and the areas in which they can still improve. Hurst keeps a detailed record of her students’ goals and successes, and she spends one-on-one time with them to review their progress and chart their growth.

Right from the get-go, data allowed Jacelyn to understand her strengths and weaknesses by looking at her past work. As the year went on, she was able to follow her own progress, looking for patterns of mistakes and figuring out what she needed to focus on. By keeping close track of her reading level, with the help of her teacher, Jacelyn could set specific goals for herself and reflect on her growth over the course of the year.

By May, Jacelyn was reading at an early third-grade level - more than two years above where she had been in September. She was proud of her progress, but also focused on the future: “It’s kind of how there are all kinds of runners. Some are fast and some are slow, but we all need to cross the finish line. Well, I just need to move faster than everyone else to get where I need to be.” This kind of reflection doesn’t come easily. It took Hurst’s commitment to the data, as well as to keeping her students involved, to help Jacelyn and her classmates take charge of their own development and forge their own paths toward success.