If you were to ask reading specialists what their favorite color is I have a feeling that many reading specialists would answer, “Green.” That would definitely be my answer. And I wouldn’t pick green just because it makes me think of summer! Green is much more powerful than that!
As a reading specialist, I spend my year engaged in data driven instruction. At the beginning of the year I work closely with classroom teachers to use data to determine which students need extra help mastering early literacy skills. Once these students are identified, I use data again to determine what kind of instruction these students need to master early literacy skills. As the school year progresses, I continuously assess students and use the data to inform my instruction. It is through this cycle of assessment and data analysis that I ensure my instruction is meeting students’ needs. In the words of Dr. Amy Murdoch from Mount Saint Joseph University, I am continuously asking the questions, “Who needs help,” “What kind of help” and “Is the ‘help’ helping?”
Many teachers use data management services to track and graph student progress. Data management programs often color-code data: strong readers are coded with the color green. Students whose skills are below grade-level goals are coded with the color yellow. And students who are well below benchmark goals are coded with the color red. I have adopted this color coding system for my own data analysis. In addition to graphing individual student data to determine if students are making adequate progress, I also engage in system-wide data analysis. At the beginning of the year I create pie graphs which depict the percentage of students who are above, below, and well below benchmark goals for the development of early literacy skills. I create school-wide graphs and graphs for my intervention caseload. As the school year closes I create new pie graphs using data from the end of the year. Then I compare the graphs side by side. This comparison provides me with a powerful visual representation of the impact of my targeted and data- driven instruction. When I see that both the school-wide and my intervention pie graphs have shifted from being mostly yellow and red to being mostly green I can breathe a sigh of relief and dive into summer knowing that my targeted, data-driven instruction has been effective.
Yes, I love the color green!
Mayerson Academy’s accredited Orton-Gillingham Reading Program is now also offered entirely online. For more information, contact Sonia Milrod, Mayerson Academy’s literacy professional development specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayerson Academy’s Orton-Gillingham Program is supported in part through funding from the Smale Family and Charles H. Dater Foundations.