Blog Series

Accurate Math Assessment: Informing Systemwide Support

by Courtney E. Wheeler, Ph.D. on August 18, 2022

Courtney E. Wheeler, Ph.D.

Data literacy matters. Mandinach and Gummer (2013) noted that the scope and nature of data in education is growing and with this growth in data, “all educators must understand how to use tangible evidence to inform their decisions rather than use anecdotes, intuitions, or personal preference” (p. 32).

Data literacy is not solely assessment literacy, but assessment literacy is a critical component of data literacy. All data collected within a school system (e.g., assessment data, fidelity data, etc.) is encompassed within data literacy.

In relation to using assessment data, like universal screening measures, data-literate educators and administrators must be able to:



Understand and articulate why we give assessments


Understand and articulate what the different purposes of assessments are that are given in schools


Understand how we give assessments in an accurate manner to be able to utilize the results

Understand how to describe the results of the assessments to others

Understand how we use the data we collect to inform our instructional practices to make positive impacts on the outcomes for all students

Understand how we use the data we collect to inform our support to the educators within our system


As someone who has spent their career in education working as a school psychologist, developing assessments with Acadience® Learning, and most recently providing professional learning and consultative support to schools and state departments around a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework with the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota, I recognize the need to make data accessible and meaningful to all who will encounter it.

Systems are more likely to be effective when educators are able to utilize the data they are collecting to inform systemwide decision-making and support. As schools across the country implement a MTSS framework, an integration of data and instruction is necessary to support all educators to ensure student success in academic and behavioral areas. For that to happen, all educators must have the data literacy skills necessary to engage with the data being collected and be able to use the data within a systematic decision-making framework (e.g. Outcomes Driven Model or the problem-solving model).

Please join me Wednesday, August 24, for a webinar in which I will describe how to utilize math assessment data, using examples from Acadience® Math, within a data-based, decision-making framework to evaluate support from a system-level perspective. The webinar will increase your data literacy skills by discussing why it’s important to look at data at the system-level, how assessment fits into the MTSS framework, and discuss ways to use math universal screening data to begin to evaluate a district’s system of support within a problem solving-model.



Mandinach, E. B. & Gummner, E. S. (2013). A systemic view of implementing data literacy in educator preparation. Educational Researcher, 32, 30-37. https://10.3102/0013189X12459803

Courtney E. Wheeler, Ph.D., is a research associate at the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota, where she provides technical assistance, training, and conducts research around the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework. Since obtaining her doctorate from the University of Oregon in School Psychology in 2010, she’s been drawn to conducting research that will have practical implications for individual children and the larger system they are part of. Through using data and evaluation, she believes we can advance educational equity and ensure all children have equal access to high-quality education. Dr. Wheeler is also the lead author of Acadience®Math (previously available under the name, DIBELS® Math) and previously worked for Acadience® Learning for more than a decade as a senior research scientist. In addition, Dr. Wheeler has served as a school psychologist in rural and urban school districts. 


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