Dealing with Failure: When Achievement Data Comes up Short
In an ideal world full of unicorns and perfect students, post-test data would always meet your goals. But we all know that the world is not ideal, there are no unicorns, and sometimes kids still don’t fully meet your lesson objectives by the time the post-test rolls around. What to do?
Well, you could make a few notes for next year and move on to the next lesson. However, is that the message that we want to send our students? Is that the kind of work that we feel comfortable with ourselves? I’m guessing the answers are probably no and no.
When faced with this exact dilemma, I wanted my failing fifth grade to know that a poor performance on a test is not forgotten the next day and that we are a team working together towards their success. They may have made incredible sculptures, but they still couldn’t articulate anything meaningful about them. Not okay with me! So we made a plan that can be followed by any teacher that finds themselves in this sticky situation…
6 Ways to Improve Data in the Art Room
- Analyze the data. Where are we doing well? Where do we need more work?
- Revisit our goals. How far away are we from reaching those goals?
- Celebrate students that made the grade. Recognize them in front of the class. It can also be very powerful to recognize students that are very close to reaching those goals, letting them know that victory is within reach!
- Understand the two-way street. Tell students that you are going to work to help them meet the goals, and that they need to meet you half way and work hard too.
- Dangle the carrot. What are the rewards of success? First, knowledge is power. From there it can be as simple as moving on to a highly engaging lesson once the goals are reached. In my classroom, fifth graders could move on to a wampum bead weaving lesson once the class met their goals. They couldn’t wait to do something so fun!
- Think about your own practices. What can you do as an educator to ensure success? I needed to teach a few test-taking skills and I allowed students to both write and illustrate their answers. I planned a few mini-lessons that hit some different learning styles that I may have neglected the first time around.
In the end, you may delay your next lesson by a few weeks. A small price to pay for high expectations and sending a message that success is a team effort.
What do you do when your students aren’t “getting it”?
What happens when students fail a test or project in your class?