What Counts as Data

When teachers set out to observe the “data” in their own practice, they can call on a wide range of evidence, both quantitative and qualitative. (See Horace, Volume 12, Number 3, January 1996 for a more complete discussion of “common” and “uncommon” measures.) Among the possibilities:

  • Student work (as exemplars and points along a continuum of standards) in written, videotaped, and portfolio forms
  • Curriculum and assessment designs and materials (evidence of teacher planning and development)
  • Analyses of survey responses from teachers, students, parents
  • Written reflections from teachers, students, parents
  • Oral interviews and records of focus groups
  • Student progress beyond school
  • Notes and feedback from peer observations
  • Shadowing of students
  • “Portraits” describing events in the life of the school (the way it resolves a dilemma, for example); stories and reflections by students and teachers
  • Quantitative data (disaggregated by race and ethnicity, gender, and income status) including course grades, standardized test scores, dropout and suspension rates, attendance, grade retention, special education enrollment, enrollment in high-level classes