Data used to scare me. I’m not going to lie. I’m a word person, so when I entered the education field and saw a stack of standardized test results in my box, my brain exploded. Not really, but it was a bit overwhelming. The truth is, we use data all the time to inform our decisions, especially as educators. How do you assign a grade to a test? How do you decide your class has mastered criteria and are ready to build on that knowledge with new content or skills? Assessment is data-driven, and its sole purpose is to guide instruction. You don’t have to be a mathematician to evaluate a performance against an established criteria or to jot down a reading fluency rate or how long it takes a student to solve math facts. If you can measure it, you should, and you probably already do. Every time you use a key to grade a unit test, you are calculating percent correct. When you have a rubric, you are using criterion-based assessment. But it’s not enough to take data on students; there has to be time for analysis. And there are many best practices for valid data collection and its uses. Who has time for all that? You do! Tune into Part 2 for some practical ideas for easy ways to record, analyze and use data in the classroom.