Understanding Data Types

Data-literate educators appreciate data in many forms, understand where to find various types of data, and understand the primary uses and limitations of each form. They create inventories of their classroom data to catalog this information.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Data-literate educators thoughtfully consider the many different forms of data at play in their classrooms, appreciate the strengths and limitations of each form, and catalogue this information in a classroom data inventory—a systematic list that reminds them of the data at their disposal and when and how to best leverage it.

Method Components

To thoughtfully consider the many different forms of data at play in their classrooms, many data-literate teachers create classroom data inventories. Powerful inventories have three primary components:

Classroom data inventories contain a range of examples representing a breadth of forms.

Educators appreciate that classroom data come in many forms (student performance data, attendance data, student demographic data, behavior data, non-cognitive data, among others), come from many sources (interim assessments, student surveys, daily attendance log, measures of grit and perseverance, and so on), and are refreshed at different frequencies (annually, weekly, daily, or more often). There are likely many specific examples within a particular form of data. For instance, examples of student performance data include student-level standards mastery data, independent reading levels, student-level daily exit ticket performance, and so on).

Classroom data inventories highlight the use of each example of data given the educator’s particular role and the problem of practice they are leveraging data to address.

How is each example of data used in the classroom? What decisions are facilitated with each type of data? For example, attendance data may inform particular inferences about students’ learning (wasn’t present to learn the material vs. didn’t learn the material), inform topics for parent/guardian communication, and suggest possible grouping strategies (for instance, creating a group of students who all have high rates of absenteeism may create problems for catching students up later).

Classroom data inventories include the limitations of each example of classroom data.

The educator understands the limitations of each type of data. For example, student-level standards mastery data provides a high-level view of individual students’ performance against various standards, but item-level data might be useful to better understand why a student (or group of students) performed in a particular way on a standard.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Gummer, E.S., & Mandinach, E.B. (2015). Building a conceptual framework for data literacy. Teachers College Record, 117(4), http://www.tcrecord.org/library/abstract.asp?contentid=17856
  • Mandinach, E. B., Parton, B. M., Gummer, E. S., & Anderson, R. (2015). Ethical and appropriate data use requires data literacy. Kappan, 96(5), 25–28.
  • Love N., Stiles, K. E., Mundry, S., & DiRanna, K.(2008). A Data Coach’s Guide to Improving Learning for All Students: Unleashing the Power of Collaborative Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


  • Boudett, K.P., City, E.A., & Murnane, R.J. (Eds.). (2013). Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning, revised and expanded edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Lachat, M. A., Williams, M., & Smith, S. C. (2006). Making sense of ALL your data. Principal Leadership, 7(2), 16–21.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn the micro-credential Creating a Data Inventory, you must describe your teaching context (optional) and provide a data inventory that includes a sample of 10 classroom data examples that are representative of the breadth of data regularly used in the classroom (required).

Part 1. Overview questions

  • (OPTIONAL) Describe any important context that would help an external observer better appreciate the classroom data inventory or your particular teaching context (100-word limit).

Part 2. Sample of classroom data examples

Provide a sample of 10 classroom data examples. You can find an optional template for uploading the submission here: http://bit.ly/1KOMF7N. If you find it helpful to include screenshots of your data, please feel free to include them, ideally pasted below the table in the template (this is optional). If you include actual data, please remove all student identifiers.

Your submission will be assessed on the following rubric. You must earn a (3) Proficient or (4) Exemplary score on this portion of the submission in order to earn the micro-credential.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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Requirements for Understanding Data Types
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