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Use the Data You Have Today to Group Students, Align Remote Resources & Plan for the Future 

March 25th, 2020

Finding ways to group students into meaningful cohorts to progress learning has always been a trend in education. These student groups may be based on academic, social-emotional, or behavior data. But in these unprecedented times, the data that we’re able to gather with students has significantly changed—and in many cases, we’re temporarily unable to receive current feedback or data at all. Therefore, many districts are using their most recent data to group remote learners for current instruction and support—and to best support students when they do return to school. 

Here are a few tips for using your most recent data to align instructional resources and support—even from afar—and to help your team plan for the future. (As a note, this post shows examples from Illuminate eduCLIMBER, but you can follow the same tips on your current data platform.)

1. Create Student Groups Using Tags

Tags provide districts two views of data. First, districts can see all data for students in the group. Second, districts can see all data for students not in the group. District leaders can plan with each other to think of student groups that would be meaningful based on the current state of education. Some examples of student groups include:

  • Remote Access
  • Attending Instruction
  • Parent/Guardian Support
  • Access to Basic Needs
  • Struggles with Transition/Change

If there is uncertainty around student groups that are needed, an idea is to send an electronic survey/form to staff members and/or parents and guardians to get a sense of current needs that may be needed to take into consideration when making plans for future instruction.

2. Pin Meaningful Data as They Relate to the Student Group to a Collection

Once the student group is created and students identified as members of the group, consolidate data that is meaningful for the group into useful data displays. Consider the purpose of the student group and the data needed to show continued progress or further support of the group. In eduCLIMBER, both charts and data walls (including custom data walls) can be added. The Collection of data should be meaningful and have the following characteristics:

  1. Have a clear purpose
  2. Include important and useful data
  3. Align to goals

For example, if the student group focuses on students with an IEP, some data to consider adding to the Collection may include:

  • Most recent benchmark assessments
  • FastBridge screening data
  • Most recent formative assessments
  • Progress monitoring data

3. Decide Who In the District Can Help Support the Student Group

Looking at the needs of the group, decide who in the district can help take action/who needs to be included in supporting the student group. Consider various staff member roles and remain open-minded on how roles can be used in unique situations. 

4. Share the Collection and Plan a Meeting

The next step is to share the Collection with all individuals who can help in developing a plan of action and/or those who will be part of the plan. Then, create a meeting within the Collection and set the agenda for the meeting date. Creating the agenda provides a nice opportunity to set clear objectives for the group including developing a plan for the intended outcome. 

OPTIONAL: If an individual in a district feels comfortable creating a meeting agenda template via smartFORMS, the form template created can be added to Step 1 of the meeting creation. Adding a form during the meeting creation will populate the form as the meeting agenda. This can be helpful in ensuring all meetings held follow the same agenda if the meetings need to relate to specific discussion points during present times. 

5. Create a Plan of Action

While meeting with the team, work to develop a plan of action. This plan can include goals, objectives, action items, and even adding qualitative data (via student comments) to individual students. Think of ready-made resources or tools that can be used to support the group, how resources can be allocated knowing the needs of the group, and what individuals will be responsible for overseeing the progress and readjusting the plan if needed.

Keep in mind that some action items may need action immediately (such as providing resources to students, contacting families with non-online resources, etc.) while other may need action closer to the start of next school year (such as developing a strategy for supporting students who struggle with transitions, creating a Universal Data Analysis Team, preparing for a likely heightened Tier 2/Tier 3 need, etc.). 

Watch a Step-by-Step Walkthrough

Follow the steps in eduCLIMBER by watching this 10.5 minute video:

*Access the User Guides tile on the eduCLIMBER Launchpad to view User Manuals, which provide step-by-step directions on using individual features within the system, including:

  • Tags
  • Collections
  • Meetings

TIP: Do you currently use Achievement Dashboard? Create a dashboard for each student group and use the Action Plan to develop the course of action.

Are you currently using eduCLIMBER to support remote learners? Leave a comment to share your tips and strategies!


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Looking for more resources around supporting remote learners? Check out our Distance Learning Community Page for free resources for your team, including webinars, professional learning activities, articles, product tips, and more.


Illuminate Education partners with K-12 educators to equip them with data to serve the whole child and reach new levels of student performance. Our solution brings together holistic data and collaborative tools and puts them in the hands of educators. Illuminate supports over 17 million students and 5200 districts/schools.

Ready to discover your one-stop shop for your district’s educational needs? Let’s talk.

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