Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction: Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 1,000 times…… data is the driving force of decision-making. Effective Head Start programs develop a culture of data-driven decision making, the process of making choices based on appropriate analysis of programmatic information. As programs consider multiple data sources and analyze their results, they are able to create changes that increase their overall quality and improve child outcomes.

Teachers play a critical role in this process through the use of ongoing assessment data to guide classroom instruction. Observing and gathering assessment information for every child is the starting point for decision-making in the classroom. Teachers must be intentional with every step in the assessment-instructional cycle, increasing their interpretive skills in order to monitor and support student progress.

Here are a few suggestions for strengthening this process:

  • Focused Observations: Teachers must target their observations and look closely for specific information. After observing that a child has difficulty with a given task, teachers take a more in-depth look at the areas of development that would support (or hinder) success in that task.
  • Interpret Data: Following a focused observation, teachers develop a hypothesis to be tested at the next instructional opportunity. For example, “Could Sara do the task if I provide more visual cues?” or “Could she do this in a different context?”
  • Adapt and Modify: Teachers use their data to design intentional groupings of students, increase environmental supports and adjust their instructional interactions to support students’ needs.
  • Engage Families: Parents are always an important part of the cycle, including the assessment feedback loop. The process of sharing with families provides teachers more information to improve their classroom practice and target learning goals.

Could your classroom staff strengthen their teaching strategies while using their assessments of children’s play to drive instruction?

Contact us at (704) 451-3255 or email us at to shedule training for your Teachers to support them with data-driven decision making.