Using the Grade Book for Data-Based Teacher Reflection {with Freebie}

The end of a term is a good place to pause and reflect as a teacher.  Maybe it’s the end of the semester, trimester, or even marking period.  Maybe you have most or all of the students again the next term, or maybe you get a fresh batch.  Regardless, the term provides a good reflection point.

If you’re entering student grades for progress reports, report cards, or otherwise catching up on grading, it’s also a good point to take a closer look at the grade book to get some data for your reflection.

Data and evidence are big trends in education right now.  And there’s something to be said about having numbers (to back up what we as teachers already know.)  The grade book shows us how many students successfully submitted an assignment and how well, overall, students scored on an assignment.  So, taking a pause to look at specific assignments by the numbers can provide some data worth reflecting on.


What grade book items should you look at?  Here are a couple ideas, with reflection questions:

  1. Grade book item with the MOST successful submissions.  This is the item that most students were able to submit, but also to complete successfully.  Looking at scores, most students would have at least a passing score, but you may even see most students in the A or B range.
    • Reflections: what was different about this assignment as compared to other, less successful assignments?  What support did students have in completing the assignment? What may account for high levels of engagement?  Looking at the submissions, were there any pain points?  In particular, you may see the pain points mainly on the lower scoring submissions.  And what can you take away from the success of this item that could be applied to other activities and assignments?
  2. Grade book item with the lowest grades/ most low grades.  This is the item that had the lowest scores from the most students that submitted.  It may be that many students submitted, but scores were overall lower than normal or even lower than expected.
    • Reflections: what were the pain points?  Where were students stuck or confused?  What question or part was skipped or incorrect most often?  What support would students need that they did not have in completing the assignment?  Was there a prior knowledge issue?  Was time, schedule, or interruptions as factor– short week, snow day, substitute teacher, local or school even affecting focus and community? Was there confusion in assignment requirements– possibly noted by students clearly trying, but missing the mark?  (For example, is students are answering a question on central idea by explaining theme– that might indicate a reteaching or prior knowledge issue.  If they demonstrating a misunderstanding of a text, that might indicate more time, scaffolding, or support in reading and analyze the text in class.)
  3. Grade book item with the MOST MISSING submissions.  This is one where students are not even turning anything in!  It’s not that they are getting low scores, but they are not even submitting the work.
    • Reflections: Is there an issue with students getting started?  Perhaps they get overwhelmed with the requirements and would benefit from chunking of the activity, or additional scaffolding. Are they lacking the prior knowledge needed, including but not limited to understanding how to complete the task?  (I saw an assignment where students were supposed to correct the errors in a passage, but they didn’t understand how to do so– in this case, demonstrating the task improved outcomes).  Are the instructions lengthy and students are not taking the time to read them?  Is there a ‘late penalty’ issue that may have discouraged students from submitting– perhaps related to a schedule or distraction issue?  If not too late, can students be offered an immunity to increase submission?

Looking for a resource to guide your data collection and reflection?  The Teacher Grade Book Reflection includes 2 pre-printed pages with guided reflection, plus and open sheet.  Fully editable. slide2

Other factors to consider:  Where was the assignment from (home created, found or purchased online, school provided, curriculum vendor)?  Can you create or find similar items OR should you do your best to avoid?  Is revision necessary?  Would scaffolding be more effective?


Done reflecting and ready for the next semester?  Check out these resources for Start of the Year (or Semester) Get-to-Know-You Activities.  Plus, check out tips on how to make students HATE poetry and how to survive teaching it!

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