EL Education.

Using Data: Using Student Work as Data

I have the student work. Now what?

"I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild  and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it." –Isaac Asimov

Student work is one of the concrete definitive measures of student achievement that teachers have at their fingertips every day. Whether teachers use this work as a formative assessment to determine their own instructional next step or whether they use it to work with their students to analyze progress and set goals, student work can be a valuable data point.

Learning Target

I can use student work as data in my school.

Student work images from Models of Excellence.


Other Topics in This Pack

Need help?

Not sure how to use this site? We've made a demo to walk you through the structure and features.


Watch: Using Inquiry Teams with Student Work

  1. How can "going small" with a few students inform instructional next steps for the whole class?
  2. What would need to be in place to analyze student work with inquiry teams at your school?

Teaching Channel (n.d.). Inquiry Teams. Retrieved October 23, 2015 from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/inquiry-protocol-nvps

Try it: Using the ATLAS protocol to look at student work

The ATLAS protocol is one way to analyze student work. This screencast walks through the protocol and models what the conversation may sound like. Please pause when necessary to follow along. Click here to access the student work used in this think aloud.

  1. Download the ATLAS protocol so you can follow along.
  2. Locate a piece of student work to analyze along with the screencast. 

Dig Deeper

Patterns in Student Work: This protocol is a helpful way to step into the process of looking at student work as staff. It invites teachers to look at a collection of student work to identify patterns of success and challenge.

Examining Student Work: This article from the National Staff Development Council describes another protocol for looking at student work—to ensure that the task and the expectations are aligned to the standards.

Synthesize and Take Action

For Teachers...

  1. How can you use student work as an effective data point to inform next steps in instruction?
  2. Which protocols will help your student work become more meaningful in informing your next steps?

For School Leaders...

  1. What is needed in order for the analysis of student work  to be safe, efficient, and have impact on student achievement?
  2. What existing or new structures would be needed to make looking at student work a regular routine?