Data Drives Decisions and Reteach

Due to not being able to connect to the internet for the past month, I had to postpone submitting my blog.  Finally today, two technician arrived at my home and repaired my internet connection.  My next blog will be on rural Arizona and technology.

At the beginning of the school year as the teacher looked at her class schedule, the teacher noticed that her class had two computer lab slots per week.  Excitedly the teacher began to plan a unit lesson that she wanted her students to begin at the start of the new school year, which would allow them to research for nine months and become experts in their assigned content area.

The students prepared by completing typing and technology lessons for a month so that they would be able to create PowerPoint presentations and be able to type a final report.  The students were excited about the project and were eagerly awaiting the day when they would finally use the computer lab to begin their research assignments.

However, on the first day the students were to use the computer lab for research the students along with the teacher were informed that the students needed to take a math assessment that would take about five minutes to complete.  Five minutes turned into 45 minutes and the students lost that period of research time.  The students were assured not to worry that they would get computer time one more time that week— students are scheduled for computer lab time on Monday and Wednesday.  On Wednesday the class arrived at the computer lab only to be informed that they needed to take another five minute math assessment, which again took 45 minutes to complete.  At the end of the week, the class was informed that they would be taking math assessments in both computer lab periods because the data coach was looking at the results of the assessments to determine which students needed to be scheduled for “Reteach.”  Sadly to say, the students have not been able to use the computer lab for the last six months due to the testing schedule.

Although many believe that data drives decisions, one must look at the circumstances surrounding the data.  For example, teachers do not need an extra 90 minutes of testing a week to know who is struggling with the math concept that is being taught at the moment.  Also, by the time the data is analyzed and students are sent to Reteach they lag behind a week trying to master the concepts they are struggling with as the remainder of the class moves forward. On the other hand, not all data is generated by the use of technology and is observable only by the classroom teacher.  For example, a student may be having difficulties with geometry using traditional pencil and paper or computer generated assessments, but given the opportunity by the teacher to use manipulatives the student has an “Aha” moment that might be the turning point that will allow the student to be successful at math.  When teachers look at data in real time, they know who needs extra help by the middle of the first new concept lesson and they administer preventative care so the student/students can continue learning along with the rest of the class.

I compare data and Reteach to preventative medical care.  In the medical field if one is having a heart attack, doctors look at the data available to them and make an informed decision and begin to treat the patient immediately and the same needs to be true for Reteach students.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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