Explaining Student Achievement Data to Families

Topics: Education Data, Family and Stakeholder Engagement

How do you explain student achievement data to families in a way they can understand?

Remove barriers. We build relationships first, along with trust. We work to move past the “We’ve always done it that way” mindset, shifting to continuous improvement and removing barriers for families to create success.

—Daniel Ackland (@dtackland), Garnett Elementary, Garnett, Kansas

Achieve goals. Collaborate with the students and their families on the steps to meet goals. Celebrate and help students make the connections of how their choices impacted their learning and meeting their goals.

—Kimberly Miles (@afewthingsworth), East Gresham Elementary School, Oregon

Display standards. Grade-level power standards are visible in each classroom showing the pathway to mastery. Students can articulate the goal, where they started, where they are currently, and what their next steps are.

—Joel Pullan, Riverton Elementary School, Riverton, Utah

Student chats. We regularly host growth-mindset data chats with students so
they are a part of the goal-setting process.

—Anna Claire Parker (@acparker12), Southaven Intermediate School, Southaven, Mississippi

Share data in conferences. I use student-led and portfolio-based conferences to empower students to share data with their families.

—Aqila Malpass (@TeachOnPurpose), Hoover City Schools, Hoover, Alabama

Eliminate jargon. We speak our own language —educationese—that’s full of jargon and abbreviations. First, remove as much teacher-speak as possible. Second, focus on growth.

—Todd Brist (@WMSPal), Watertown Middle School, Watertown, South Dakota

Write letters. We share the data using letters in all languages. Teachers also share data with families one-on-one at conferences. When interpreters are needed, they are provided.

—Shannon Hamm (@hamm_shamm), Circle Center Grade School, Yorkville, Illinois

Set expectations. Families can’t partner with us if they do not understand what the expectations are and how their children are progressing toward them. Showing each family what their child is doing—highlighting their strengths and challenges—helps them support learning at home.

—Jessica Zimmer (@Mrs_J_Zimmer), Shelter Rock Elementary, North Hills,
New York

Graphic representations. Visual representations help make the data more understandable. We also work hard to stay away from education jargon when we discuss data with families, because it can lead to confusion.

—Matthew Moyer (@MoyerMatthewD), Rupert Elementary School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Quarterly updates. I publicize a document called “Measures That Matter” quarterly. Information includes performance, achievement, and growth data on assessments and curriculum. “Measures That Matter” is included in a section in our newsletter, posted on our website, and shared on our social media channels.

—Ed Cosentino (@PrincipalECos), Phelps Luck Elementary, Columbia, Maryland

Emphasize a continuum. We use continuums of learning to show growth over time. By using a continuum, parents can focus on their child’s growth vs. grades. We hold parent workshops to look at our standardized test scores, then offer individual sessions to “unpack” student scores. In November, we hold student-led conferences, where students speak about their achievement and goals. This perhaps is one of the most powerful strategies for parents, because we ask students to include a reflection on how parents can support learning.

—Paola Torres, Carol Morgan School, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Chart achievement. I use visuals and charts and give background information on what the achievement data means and why the state and federal governments use it. I show our growth and areas of improvement.

—Lyn Marsilio (@LynMarsilio), Yorkshire Elementary School, Manassas, Virginia