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Fostering Success: How Danni Stewart Uses Data to Empower Students

Fostering Success: How Danni Stewart Uses Data to Empower Students

Author: David Specht | Blog, Success Stories |

Danni Stewart, a creative and dedicated fifth-grade teacher at Conestoga Public Schools, has been shaping young minds for over a decade. Her classroom, inspired by Harry Potter, offers a magical backdrop for her innovative teaching methods. Danni’s focus on data-driven instruction ensures that each student receives personalized support tailored to their unique needs. In this Q&A, she shares how she uses data to guide her teaching, promote equity, and help every student grow.

Q&A with Danni Stewart

Otus: What inspired your focus on data-driven instruction and personalized learning in education?

Stewart: When we focus on data-driven instruction, we can really dial down the education to fit the students’ needs. Each student is different, and sometimes the achievement gap can be huge by the time students hit fifth grade. So, for myself and my team, we really focus on what each student struggles with and group them based on those needs.

Otus: What are some ways you use data to inform your teaching and instructional decisions?

Stewart: We use the data from Otus to help with our Cougar Power Block class, which is an enrichment and intervention time as well. We group the students into standards-based groups where we feel they need more instruction based on the data. Then, we create fun hands-on review learning for those specific standards. We rotate these weekly or biweekly depending on the skills. Then, we can create short exit tickets to collect the data in Otus as needed.

Rubric Analysis in Otus
Otus rubric assessments break down assessments into specific criteria, offering Stewart detailed feedback on various aspects of student performance. This data helps identify exactly where a student excels and where they need support.

Otus: How can data help educators and school leaders make equitable decisions that support every student’s needs?

Stewart: Data can help you dial in what a student needs and is struggling with. We can use that data to help get students into interventions, HAL, or standards-based grouping.

Otus: What are the key data points that you prioritize when making decisions related to student outcomes?

Stewart: To plan out our daily lessons and assessments, we prioritize our standards. We make sure that we backward design all of our lessons and assessments so that we are giving students multiple opportunities to be proficient.

Otus: Could you share a specific instance where adopting data-driven practices resulted in a significant improvement, whether in student performance, engagement, collaborative practices, or other measurable outcomes?

Stewart: Since we have started implementing standards-based grouping in our Cougar Power Block time, we have seen growth on our weekly assessments and our state testing (NSCAS).

State Testing in Otus
Stewart can analyze student data from NSCAS, NWEA MAP, aimsweb, and more all in Otus.

Otus: What barriers have you encountered when trying to use data effectively in your teaching?

Stewart: A barrier we sometimes encounter is student effort. We can do everything we need for our students and give them what they need to be successful, but if they don’t put in the effort, sometimes our data is inaccurate.

Otus: Do you incorporate data into your conversations with students? If so, how do you work to build their capacity around their strengths and areas of opportunity?

Stewart: My students create monthly goals. When they create their SMART goals, it has to have a numerical amount attached to it. Many of the students use their module math or reading assessments as goals. They can easily go into their Otus accounts, review their tests, and prove if they have met their goal.

Otus: Why did your district choose to adopt Otus and how does the tool support the use of data in decision-making?


Our district chose to adopt Otus to streamline all of our standards-aligned grading into one platform. We liked that it was a data hub to hold our curriculum assessments, as well as the state tests.

Standards Aligned Assessments in Otus
Otus provides a single tool for Stewart’s district to deliver standards-aligned assessments, ensuring all teachers have access to high-quality measures that provide reliable data on progress towards learning targets.

Otus: What tool in Otus do you find to have the most impact on your work?

Stewart: We use the assessment tool more than anything. We like that we can do so many things within the platform from creating rubrics, advanced assessments, easy quick exit tickets, and students can also link their work (Google Docs) within the assessment. Then, as an added bonus, it is all GRADED for us!

Creating a Data-Driven Learning Environment

Danni Stewart brings a unique blend of creativity and data-driven strategies to her fifth-grade classroom. With Otus as her go-to tool, Danni tailors her instruction to meet each student’s needs, ensuring they have the support to excel. Her approach not only enhances student performance but also fosters a lively and collaborative learning environment. Danni’s dedication to her students and innovative use of data make her a shining example of effective teaching in K-12 education.

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