Transforming Literacy Learning with Data-Driven Instruction

Data helps educators support reading at district, school, and classroom levels.

GUEST COLUMN | by Steven Guttentag

Data can tell us a lot about ourselves and those around us. From personal biometrics showing us how our sleep patterns change over time, to our shopping habits predicting what items we’re likely to add to our cart, data is everywhere. And education is no exception. Given the reliance on technology in all facets of 21st-century life, it’s no wonder there is an ever-growing number of edtech programs available to teachers in both the K-12 and higher education settings. The best new technologies use data to transform the way educators teach and how students learn – this is especially true when it comes to literacy instruction.

‘Implementing the right edtech solution can make a positive impact on the literacy initiatives in a school or district, as well as on individual students’ reading proficiency growth and outlook on learning.’

Whether school is happening remotely, in-person or a hybrid of the two, data-driven instruction is the key to providing an effective, personalized and measurable learning experience for students at every reading level. Tapping into data also supports teachers who are often feeling stretched too thin to provide students with individualized attention. When data is paired with adaptive edtech platforms, it makes teachers’ lives easier and their instruction more targeted and powerful.

Providing Markers Throughout the Year

Data helps educators – at the district, school or classroom perspective – identify trends related to student performance as well as deficits in their learning. Traditionally, they depend on statewide testing, which generally happens late in the school year, to obtain these types of insights. At that point, if student results are unsatisfactory, it is too late for teachers to course-correct.

With data-driven edtech programs, it is much easier to pinpoint the teaching methods that have the most impact on students earlier in the process. In fact, edtech that offers benchmarking and regular assessments provides markers throughout the school year to determine how well students are building literacy and reading skills. Some literacy programs also provide a “projected growth report” with predictions of students’ end-of-year proficiency levels based on current performance. With this actionable data at their fingertips, administrators and educators are empowered to make appropriate changes while students continue to learn.

Leveraging findings from a program’s data also helps teachers provide personalized and enriched literacy instruction while making the most of their limited resources. While this is crucial for all learning environments, it is especially effective for remote learning. As COVID-19 continues to put teachers and students at a physical distance from one another, it may not be as obvious when someone is struggling with reading and comprehension.

A Learning Path Forward

Adaptive literacy programs lighten the load for educators, providing individual learning paths for students based on their performance metrics. Access to the right edtech program is akin to having a student teacher or assistant who can pinpoint students’ problem areas and alert teachers that differentiated reading instruction is needed. Whether students are learning remotely or in the classroom, edtech programs continuously track the class’s data, provide input on which skills are being successfully built or are in need of attention, and increase student accountability. As a result, teachers are able to channel their energy into other necessary educational tasks.

Implementing the right edtech solution can make a positive impact on the literacy initiatives in a school or district, as well as on individual students’ reading proficiency growth and outlook on learning. When literacy programs employ data-driven instruction that adapts to each child’s reading level, everyone can learn and grow at their own pace.

Additionally, metrics tracked within these platforms help students learn more about themselves. They can see insights on the categories and types of stories they like best, as well as discover new interests through recommendations powered by the reading patterns of similar students. This information paired with the ability to see their own growth within a personal dashboard is a key driver of motivation, self-confidence and responsibility, turning students into lifelong readers and learners.

Reading is the foundation of all learning. With data-driven literacy programs incorporated into physical and virtual classrooms, the educational experience is transformed for all involved. When adopted widely, edtech can help ensure no one gets left behind.

Steven Guttentag is CEO of Reading Plus, an adaptive literacy solution for grades 3-12. Connect with him through LinkedIn.


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