How do early childhood teachers use language and literacy data for planning? A descriptive look at data users

How do early childhood teachers use language and literacy data for planning? A descriptive look at data users

First Author: Gloria Yeomans -- The University of Michigan
Additional authors/chairs: 
Rachel E. Schachter; Shayne B. Piasta
Keywords: Assessment, Preschool, Teacher Knowledge, Literacy, Language
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Despite widespread support for using language and literacy (LL) data in educational settings, we continue to have little understanding as to how data are used by teachers. This is especially true in early childhood (EC), where teachers face increasing pressure to collect and use data (Lonigan et al., 2011). This mixed methods study addresses this gap.

Method: EC teachers (n=106) from a variety of settings and backgrounds reported their LL data use practices via fixed-choice and open-comment questions on an online survey. We asked teachers about their data use practices (e.g., planning, grouping children, tracking learning), including their priorities for planning and in-the-moment instruction. We focused on informal, documented, and standardized data sources.

Results: Fourteen of seventeen practices were used by at least 80% of teachers, and eight were used by more than 90%. Practices were used with relatively high frequency (M=3.64, SD =0.73, range=1 to 5). However, responses did not align with the open-comment data wherein teachers reported these practices less frequently (e.g., 92% vs. 54% for planning, 90% vs. 20% setting learning goals). For planning, less than a third or teachers prioritized data use, focusing on informal (31%), followed by documented (22%), and standardized data (20%). In contrast, for in-the-moment instruction, the majority of teachers prioritized informal data (69%), with minimal prioritizing of documented (13%) and standardized data (5%).

Conclusion: The majority of teachers reported using most of the practices, with variability in data prioritization. Findings indicate important differences in teacher responses based on question type.