Data Review and Goal Setting Conference

In mastery based or self-paced learning, it is important to give students ownership of their learning data and support them to set goals
240 teachers like this strategy
Workshop Conference

About This Strategy

This strategy helps to build a manageable system allowing students to analyze their learning data regularly, set meaningful goals aligned with this analysis and meet one-on-one with their teacher regularly to review with the progress they are making in relation to their personal goals. It is applicable to every grade level, including kindergarten, and to any content area.

Plan It

Prior to implementing a Data Review and Goal Setting conference, it is important that you strategically plan for implementation by completing the following:

  1. Determine first which assessments students should analyze deeply and derive learning goals from. Try to schedule these moments in a way that gives students enough time to work on the goals they are setting and see progress from it.
  2. Create a simple data analysis and reflection sheet allowing students to break down the "big" score received on an assessment into "smaller" mastery scores aligned to specific standards or skills.
    • See the example benchmark data below from a  4th grade math teacher, and notice how this template pushes students to start thinking about standards/skills of focus in the upcoming weeks. In a Mastery Based progression, an assessment never means the end of the learning journey. Any skill unmastered can be worked on by students until they reach mastery.
  3. Set up 1:1 meetings with each student to reflect on their data and set meaningful goals.
    • If meeting one-on-one with all students seems difficult to do right away, select a group of students to want to focus on at first in order to study the impact and make any necessary modifications.

Practice It

60 minutes

Now that you have planned to implement a Data Review and Goal Setting conference, it is time to implement it with students.

  1.  Engage students in a goal setting activity in which they verbalize what standards or skills they would like to focus their work on when given self-paced learning time in the upcoming weeks.
    • They can also express how they would prefer working on these areas of growth.
    • If you have previously helped students identify learning styles or preferences, they can connect these with the "how" when it comes to working on their "not mastered yet" skills. The Learning Profile Planner linked in the resource section below as well as the Math Contract from Molly's 4th grade class are two examples of what this goal setting can look like.
    • From then on, plan time for students to be able to work on these goals during class. During that time, have available for them playlists or pathways (see Playlists and Pathways strategy below) allowing them to work on what they need at their own pace. During this time, plan small group interventions for students struggling with same skill and one-on-one data review and goal setting conferences to help students monitor their progress and make adjustments.
  2. Engage in one-on-one conferences with each student, use the following agenda:
    • Review goals set by students and compare them to your data analysis for them. Help them improve their goals if necessary.
    • Review the work plan students created for themselves based on these goals. Help them improve it if necessary based on what you know of them.
    • Review data from different activities they have already been working on. Celebrate progress already made.
    • If their online learning data or their feedback seem to indicate they are getting close to mastery in a standard, encourage them to take a quick assessment to confirm that. Lead this assessment during the conference with a strategy like Battling the Boss (linked below), or have mini standard assessments available to them.
    • Ask them what still feels hard when they work independently. Extract it from their data too. From there, suggest a group intervention they could attend or a a peer they could work on this skill with (See Mastery Map and Standard-Based Peer Tutors strategy below)
  3. Schedule the next progress check in with the student. 


Reflect and Refine It

After you begin implementing Marzano's Practice, consider the following:

  • What went well? What was challenging? 
  • Are students self-assessing accurately?
  • What additional supports are needed?
  • What iterations should be made when you use this strategy again?
  • Did the goal setting conference help student set measurable goals? If not, what could you do differently next time? 

After engaging in reflection, determine any changes and go through the planning and implementation steps again. 

Data Review and Goal-Setting Conference For Distance Learning

Tori Todd
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

When learning in a distance format, setting goals and reviewing data can help motivate students to engage in self-paced work.  

Implementation steps:

  1. Provide students with relevant data to inform their goal-setting. Use a template, like the Learning Profile Planner below, to help students analyze their data.

  2. Meet with students one-on-one, or in groups with other students who share similar data. Use a program like Zoom or Google Meet to see and hear each other in real time. Ask each student to set a goal during your meeting, using a goal-setting structure such as SMART goals. To learn more about goal setting structures, consult BetterLesson's Goal Setting and Reflection strategy below..

  3. Review students' goals and compare them to your own analysis. Provide students with actionable feedback to inform their work plans.

    • To modify these steps for asynchronous distance learning, try using a shareable document (like a Google Doc) for students to record their goals and receive feedback. Or, use a video-based tool, like Flipgrid, for students to record their goals on video or with an audio recording.

  4. During a live, synchronous small group or 1:1 student conference, have students reflect on their work so far, and share what has been challenging about working toward their goals.

  5. Check in consistently with students during a live, synchronous session. Aim for at least once every two weeks, if not more frequently. If you are not able to connect with students via video conference, consider setting up a phone call or text message exchange with each of them to touch base on their goals once a week. 

Special Education Modification

Nedra MassenburgDEMO
Special Education Specialist

Data review and goal setting provide an accessible, structured way for students with disabilities to reflect and analyze their performances.   Goal setting conferences support students with disabilities by providing a structured opportunity for them to receive more feedback on their reflection and remediation.

Effective data review requires teachers to prepare for the bevy of skills they require from students including executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.) skills, written expression skills, reading skills, and/or verbal skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:


  1.  Ensure that hand handouts are structured or modified to help students with task initiation as well as provide clear benchmarks (bolded words, bulleted lists) to assess task completion. See the "Modified Math Contract" and the "Modified Learning Profile Planner" resources in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Teachers should think carefully about the approach of quality over quantity when helping students with disabilities analyze their data.  For the most targeted support, the focus should be on a deep analysis of performance on the highest leverage tasks of an assessment rather than remediating all skills.  This may look like asking students to only do remedial practice on three out of six open response questions or asking students to only focus on practice for skills they received less than 50% mastery on.   

  3. Use visual aids, timers, and verbal reminders to help pace students and help with task initiation and task completion when they are analyzing their data. 


EL Modifications

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

Reviewing data and setting goals are important academic tasks for English learners to practice. This strategy guides learners in a process of assessment and improvement planning that will serve them throughout their academic endeavors. 

English learners are required to listen to and respond to teachers and peers, read data, and write plans for mastering skills. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Ensure the assessments being analyzed are fair accurate assessments of learners. Consider accommodating, modifying, or creating alternative assessments for English learners that aim to distinguish between linguistic and content mastery so their goals may be focused appropriately. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist. See the "Using Informal Assessment in the Classroom" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Simplify language in data analysis worksheets and goal setting templates. Use wh- question stems and simple sentence structure. Provide word banks and sentence stems or frames to guide target language for goals. Consider fill-in-the-blank worksheets with word banks for learners at lower levels of language proficiency. See the "Simplified Learning Profile Planner" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners. Use the independent work time during the analysis phase to ensure learners are using graphic organizers correctly and are recognizing patterns in areas of strength and improvement. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview the process for learners who are new to the process. See the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Stems" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  4. Consider adding language goals to content goals. Conveying knowledge is an important part of mastering skills for English learners. Use learner-friendly rubrics to evaluate language skills used to show content mastery.  See the "ELD Student-Friendly Rubrics" in the resource section below for more information.

Coach Tips

Romain Bertrand
BetterLesson Instructional Coach
  1. Start small. Do not try to do this for every assessment right away, or even every standard. Give yourself enough time between the assessments you will want your students to do this. This way, they will have time to work on their goals, you will have time to support this work with your one-on-one conferences and small group interventions, and you will able to celebrate progress!

  2. Schedule yourself during their self-paced work time. For example, if this is going to last 45 minutes, it can look like this:

    • 9:00-9:10: Help them get started

    • 9:10-9:30: 20 min small group intervention on Simplification of Fractions

    • 9:30-9:45: 3 one-on-one conferences with Jamal, Aliyiah and Noah

Tips from a Teacher

Molly Nealeigh
BetterLesson Coaching Participant

SECRET #1: Have them analyze their data within 48 hours of taking an assessment. Also, let students color skills green, yellow, or red with a crayon. OR even better, have them do it electronically and highlight them on Google Drive. It will help them visualize it better!

SECRET #2: The first time I had students analyze their data and set goals, I underestimated how long it would take students to complete this. So, the next time I did, I chunked it and had them first look at the power standards and then the standards they missed the most in.

To learn more, check out my blog post below!