Making Meaning of Results


Use these tools to help your teams make meaning from survey results.

Someone To Talk To Resource Tool

One powerful way to make meaning of your data is to observe your results in the context of comparative data. Use this writeable tool to explore your students’ responses by grade level to this highly actionable item in the YouthTruth survey:

“When I am feeling upset, stressed, or having problems, there is an adult at school who I can talk to about it.”
  1. Locate the “Someone To Talk To” item in the Relationships section of your report.
  2. Find the percent positive for your students’ responses to the “Someone To Talk To” item at each grade level.
  3. Record your students’ percent positive in the writeable box for each grade/gender, either above or below the trend line.

What do you notice? Does your data mirror the national trendline, or diverge from it? Is anything surprising?

The 4D’s: Defensive, Dismissive, Dejected, Downplay the Negative

Try this simple – but powerful – activity with your team before you review your YouthTruth data. Naming the 4D’s gives your team a shared vocabulary for recognizing four common reactions adults have to student perception feedback. Introducing the 4D’s can also help your team to adopt a listening-to-learn mindset. As you review your data, try pausing periodically to invite individuals to share if they are experiencing any of the 4D’s. We’ve provided notes in the following 4D’s slide show that we encourage you to adapt and make your own. You can also read more about using the 4D’s in this related backpack resource.

3 Questions to Guide Your Use of Student Feedback

Education is one of the few industries, perhaps the only one, in which everyone has a firsthand experience and a valid opinion. That translates into lots of ideas from various stakeholders about what should be done differently to improve schools. But why is it that the ideas of the people we’re ultimately trying to serve, and arguably those most affected — the students — tend to be the last voices heard and acted upon?

Part of the reason is that it’s not always easy to use student feedback productively — or at all!

While there are many ways to get student feedback, the focus of our work at YouthTruth, a national nonprofit based in San Francisco, is through surveys. Here are three ideas and key questions to help get the most out of student feedback for school improvement.

Using the Ladder of Inference

Educators have an ever-increasing stream of data at their fingertips, but knowing how to use this data to improve learning and teaching — how to make it less overwhelming, more useful, and part of an effective collaborative process — can be challenging.

Data Gallery Walk Facilitation Guide

The Data Equity Walk toolkit from The Education Trust—West can be used to dive into your school or district’s data to explore gaps between how different groups experience school.

Diving Into the Data

Data Wise, edited by Kathryn Parker Boudett, Elizabeth A. City, and Richard J. Murnane, is a step-by-step guide to using assessment results to improve teaching and learning. We’re highlighting two of our favorite and most-used protocols to help you and your teams make meaning from survey results:

  • The Question Formulation Technique – useful for helping a group of people fully explore an issue before jumping in to a discussion
  • The Affinity Protocol – useful for facilitating a group hypothesizing session to explore what may underlie an identified issue in order to work towards solutions

Learning from Data is a tool to guide groups of teachers discovering what students, educators, and the public understand and how they are thinking. The tool, developed by Eric Buchovecky, is based in part on the work of the Leadership for Urban Mathematics Project and the Assessment Communities of Teachers Project. Use this protocol for:

  1. Setting norms and getting started with data reflection
  2. Describing your data and gathering information
  3. Interpreting your data and question generation
  4. Planning next steps and strategies

Respect Worksheet

This worksheet guides you through a process to identify potential gaps in the perception of respect between students and staff in your YouthTruth reports. Use it to facilitate constructive conversations in the pursuit of cultivating a culture of courtesy, care, and appreciation within your community.

Big Picture Worksheet

Use this worksheet to do a Big Picture analysis of your reports focused on identifying celebrations and areas of growth in your Executive Summary.