Collaborative Staff Discussions

Increasing rigor, setting new testing benchmarks, and changing national education regulations have managed to turn what once seemed like a “data overload” into what is now perceived as a “data drought.” Instructional practices must be based upon carefully constructed classroom evaluations—data collected in real time. This article urges educators to rely on the data closest to our students: classroom test results and formative data. “Teams that embrace data use the right process at the right time to analyze the right data for the right reasons” (Thomas, p. 46).




  • Begin by providing participants with copies of the reading or the link to the reading prior to the group discussion. Encourage all participants to read the selection—highlighting, annotating, and noting important points. This activity is for use with the members of the instructional or grade-level teams, the leadership team, and/or the faculty as a whole.
  • Divide participants into discussion groups of five to eight. Ask each group to identify a recorder and follow the discussion prompts below to begin the conversation. Summarize your group responses.
  • Reconvene the groups and ask one or two recorders to summarize the group discussions. Have each recorder submit their discussion summaries to the facilitator.

Extend and Apply

Data are only effective if actions are taken. As you reflect on the information provided in this article, determine how you can incorporate some of these strategies to evaluate and change instructional practices in your classroom. How can you promote a data culture in your department and in your school? Meet with your content or grade-level team and review the data that determines student strengths and weaknesses. Discuss actions to focus instruction to better support student learning needs. Data team members can facilitate and interpret state test results.

Set up at least one viewing station with a computer, screen, and internet connection for resource review. Distribute the link from the Reading website and review and discuss the six steps of the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process (CFIP). How might this process improve instruction at your school? Use the Discussion Guide Planning Templates to plan initiatives and identify team members for ongoing collaboration as you focus on the instructional practices needed to improve student learning.