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Data and Learning Connections for Families and Students

Schools have access to an abundance of instructional assessment data, which teachers and administrators analyze to make informed instructional decisions. High-quality assessments are integral to the teaching and learning process and can help:
  • teachers collect meaningful data,
  • students know where they are in relation to learning targets, and
  • families understand their child’s academic progress (Goodrich, 2014, p.2).

Connecting Students and Data

Teachers can partner with students during data-based discussions to co-develop learning targets. Teachers can also help students understand where they are in their learning and determine areas for growth. For example, if students want to increase their reading fluency, teachers and students first collect baseline information on reading fluency in independent-level text. Teachers then implement learning strategies that support increased fluency (e.g., students reread passages to improve reading rate). Students, in turn, record the number of words read correctly per minute on a graph to monitor their progress. When students take an active part in designing assessments, implementing interventions, and collecting data, they come to understand the purpose of their data and its link to learning.

Connecting Families and Data

Many families want to know how their child is progressing. Teachers can partner with them by explaining their child’s data. “Sharing small amounts of data in easy-to-read formats (data snippets) make parent/teacher conferences more focused as the data makes the ideas expressed visible to everyone” (Landrigan & Mulligan, 2015, p. 1). Teachers should also inform families that assessment data is used to adapt teaching strategies to help students work toward specific learning goals (Harvard Research Project, 2013).

An effective way to share data is to connect the information to the family’s questions or concerns. For example, if a family is concerned about their child’s reading ability, a teacher can share data from the student’s running record to highlight the types of words the child reads automatically and those he or she struggles to decode. Families can contribute to the conversation by sharing whether they see similar reading patterns at home.

Connecting Home and School

Family members often want to know how they can help their child learn at home. Teachers can effectively translate the running record data, for example, by demonstrating to families what it means when students make certain errors, and then suggest strategies that parents can use to help their child (e.g., chunking word parts when decoding). When discussing test scores with families, teachers can describe the learning outcomes the test is designed to measure. For example, when presenting the results of formative assessments, teachers can explain how the test results from classroom instruction are used to check student understanding and plan further instruction (Bialis-White, 2015).


Teachers should include students in data conferences. By connecting data to learning, teachers demystify data for students and their families. “Sharing student data during a parent/teacher conference can help teachers communicate growth, explain areas of concern, and share the rationale behind their instructional decisions. But more importantly, sharing data can help everyone obtain a deeper understanding of how a child is growing and learning” (Landrigan & Mulligan, 2015, p. 4).

Note to Reader: If you have questions about how to effectively translate data for students and families or have tips for engaging in this process, please leave a message for the author by selecting the comment button below.


Bialis-White, L. (2015, October 15). Talking to parents about data. Retrieved from

Goodrich, K. (2014, June 5). Assessment literacy: Teacher tips for speaking with parents and students about assessments. Retrieved from

Harvard Family Research Project. (2013). Tips for administrators, teachers, and families: How to share data effectively. Retrieved from

Landrigan, C., & Mulligan, T. (2015, April 7). Sharing data with families at parent/teacher conferences. Retrieved from

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