Use Data to Jumpstart Next Year’s CTE Program Planning

05.10.2024 | Credentialing

Educators start planning for the upcoming school year during the summer months. Collecting and analyzing assessment data jumpstarts planning efforts by offering insight into student knowledge, instructional strengths, and areas needing review or improvement. Here are three steps to effectively use data for CTE program planning.

Step 1: Collect Data

Before educators start collecting data, it’s helpful to know two things: the types of data that are available and what data are useful for instructional planning.

If a school uses NOCTI assessments, teachers can access student score reports in the Teacher Resource Center or request them from their NOCTI site coordinator. Competency Summary Reports are among the most useful tools for long-term program planning. These reports provide longitudinal data, including:

  • The number of students who have taken the test within a specific date range
  • The number of test items per competency
  • The percentage and average number of items answered correctly

If possible, collect at least three years of program-level data. This approach makes it easier to identify general trends and enhance understanding of how effectively the curriculum and instruction prepare students for credentialing, postsecondary programs, and the workforce.

Step 2: Look For Trends

Now, it’s time to analyze the compiled data. While data analysis can initially seem overwhelming, the best approach is to keep things simple. Start by identifying trends and patterns. For instance, are there competencies where the average percent of correct items is below 50%? Or, are there dramatic fluctuations in scores from one year to the next?

Here are a few tips for identifying trends in the data:

  • Look for data detailed by specific competencies to see strengths and weaknesses.
  • Look at the highest and lowest percentages of correct responses.
  • Note any changes from one year to the next.

Compile a list of the observations and potential explanations. This exercise is not designed to be negative or highlight poor student performance; instead, it aims to pinpoint areas that warrant further investigation.

Step 3: Formulate Actionable Steps

The final step is to examine the observations made in step two more closely and formulate a plan.

For example, if it is determined that students in the carpentry class did not score well in the Foundations, Forms, and Concrete competency, it’s worth examining the curriculum. Does the curriculum adequately cover the topics listed within the competency? Consider also evaluating the environment. Are there appropriate workspaces available? Do students have access to the necessary tools and materials to practice installing and aligning the framework?

Remember, many factors may influence a single assessment score. These could include differences in teaching styles, the sequence of instruction, or influences outside the classroom. During the investigation, consider these questions:

  • Are there gaps in student achievement, teacher instruction, or the curriculum being used?
  • Has there been an impact from a new curriculum or facility?
  • Are there performance differences among subgroups of students?
  • Does the same assessment reveal differences between instructors (e.g., a two-teacher program) or between two groups of students (e.g., morning or afternoon sessions)?

By the end of step three, educators should have a list of instructional or curricular modifications aimed at increasing technical competence. These modifications might involve:

  • Adjusting the curriculum, the sequence of topics, or the length of instruction
  • Introducing additional curricular reinforcement activities
  • Upgrading or adding equipment
  • Reinforcing academic concepts through classroom discussions

Don’t forget to document efforts so that next year, when it’s time to analyze the data again, it will be possible to see how changes affected the program.

Get More CTE Insights from NOCTI

Did you find these insights helpful? The book, Putting Your Data to Work includes detailed strategies and practical “how-tos” for improving instruction in CTE.

NOCTI is also developing additional free resources for CTE educators. Our upcoming guide “The Secret Recipe of Rockstar CTE Teachers” has three research-backed strategies to empower teachers to foster an environment where learners thrive and where continuous improvement is the standard. Stay tuned for news about this and other free resources from NOCTI.