Below is a snapshot of assessment data for my four sections of 7th-grade English, pulled from Kickboard, a powerful student data platform. The results come from a test taken at the end of our unit on informational texts, just weeks before our high-stakes state standardized testing:
The first two columns show results across classes for a set of questions on deciphering vocabulary words. The second two columns aggregate results for a set of six related questions on organizational patterns in informational text—patterns like main idea & supporting details, cause & effect, and chronological order. (For a bigger screenshot, click here.) It’s clear from the swaths of red down the second two columns that all of my classes needed additional support to master identifying and analyzing organizational patterns. Drawing this conclusion during the first week of March was particularly important because by that time, I had one week before the Maryland State Assessment. I needed to make the most of those five instructional days.
Looking to my assessment data in order to make teaching decisions is of course a standard TFA practice. And I could have done this with my district software, Edusoft, which also handles scanning answer sheets & analyzing test data. Here’s part of what an analogous report looks like in that platform:
The same information is there… if you cross-reference the indicator codes with their full descriptions and know the thresholds for the “Basic” band. In short, it was a lot easier to see what standards I needed to reteach once I had my data in Kickboard. Fortunately, the entrepreneurs behind the software (who include several TFA alums) have built in a feature that allows users to upload Edusoft data. That meant I could follow all my administration’s protocol for administering and storing the data from the assessment, but I could then move it over to the far more legible and user-friendly Kickboard system, which is also where I track behavioral data and parent contacts.
(Full disclosure: Kickboard was a partner on the January EdcampDC, which I helped organize.)
The Kickboard feature set is too big to cover in one post, but the group is out ahead of the pack in building a powerful Student Information System that integrates academic data and behavioral information. The software is already in wide use in the New Orleans school district, and for the next few weeks, the company will run a private beta test with 15 users. Participants will get free lifetime access to the platform: sign up here and more info below, but registration for the beta closes Wednesday.
Below, I’ll run through the process I went through to get Edusoft data into the system. The fact that you have to move information from one system to another to get better analytical tools is a fact of life at the moment, but systems like Kickboard are growing, and it’s up to classroom leaders to leverage them. When teachers can show administrators the link between new platforms like this one and student achievement, then we can make stronger arguments that resources should go to these nimble startups, not to the entrenched companies peddling mediocre data tools at the district level.
Moving Data from Edusoft to Kickboard
These instructions will make the most sense if you have Edusoft in your district, but they should also give you an idea of the Kickboard “assessment scorecard” interface.
1) Export assessment data from Edusoft as an “Item Response Report.” This will generate an Excel document that shows how each student answered each multiple-choice question on the assessment:
2) Create a new “assessment scorecard” under the Academics section in Kickboard. This is essentially a flexible data set for results from one assessment that you can then dissect multiple ways:
3) Next, you align each of the questions from the assessment with standards that you’ve previously entered into the system:
4) Now that you have the standards and questions aligned in Kickboard, you upload the (somewhat messy) Edusoft spreadsheet, check that the student names all match up, and viola:
Did Kickboard allow me to make the best instructional decision for my students last month? I believe it did. But I’m waiting on the Maryland State Assessment data to come back before I can be sure.
More on the Private Beta
This info comes from the Kickboard staff, who are interested in assembling a team of data-loving beta testers: If you’re interested in free lifetime access to the software, apply for their invitation-only private beta. Thousands of teachers currently use the tool for behavior and academic data in the schools that subscribe to Kickboard, but they want to learn more about how it can be just as effective for individual teachers.
They’ll give you free lifetime access, training, and support. In return they expect you to use Kickboard for 6 weeks, answer 8 short surveys, and potentially do a ten minute phone interview. They’re only accepting 15 testers, so if you’re interested sign up now. The beta starts this Thursday, April 19 and runs until June 1, but you’ll need to apply using the short form linked above in the next 48 hours to get invited.