3 Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching, Edutopia

3 Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching

The number one job of a teacher is to be faithful to authentic student learning. Unfortunately, our profession is overly fixated on results from one test, from one day, given near the end of the school year. Yes, that standardized testing data can be useful; however, we teachers spend the entire year collecting all sorts of immediate and valuable information about students that informs and influences how we teach, as well as where and what we review, readjust, and reteach.

Here’s how teachers collect student data and some of the ways we use it.

1. From the Classroom

Formative Assessments: Low-stakes assessments are really the most important and useful student data. Exit slips, brief quizzes, and thumbs up/thumbs down are a few of my favorite ways to gather information on where students are and where we need to go next.

Observations: The beauty of having a constructivist, student-directed classroom? The kids are comfortable with you walking around and sitting with them in their groups—your “guide on the side” role. In other words, they don’t freeze up when you step away from the podium or your regular spot by the whiteboard. This freedom allows you to be a fly on the wall, gathering data on individual students: How well are they making sense of the content? Interacting with others? Are they struggling with a learning activity? Such data from observations then leads us to adjust pacing for the whole class or scaffold for those students who are still struggling.

Projects, Essays, and Exams: Summative assessments, such as literary analysis essays or end-of-unit science exams, allow us to measure the growth of individual and whole-group learning. If a large number of students don’t do well on a high-stakes assessment, we need to reflect back on the teaching and make necessary adjustments in the future.

2. From Cumulative Files

It’s difficult to find the time to read students’ files, but if you haven’t before, trust me, it’s well worth it. Much information is found in these files. From trekking to the counseling office after school, sitting down with a cup of coffee, and reading through the files of students I had questions about (beyond the data in hand), I’ve discovered critical information. Here are some notable examples:

  • A girl who often missed class was homeless, living in the family car
  • Several students who had been identified as gifted were inaccurately placed in my general education English class
  • A boy struggling to fit in had been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • More than a dozen students who never wore eyeglasses in class (or contacts—I checked) had prescriptions

From a child’s cumulative files, you can sometimes see a dramatic grade change at a specific point during their school journey. Perhaps prior to eighth grade, the child had been an A student and then started earning Ds and Fs. You can express concern about this, sharing the data with them. The students may then share a reason with you: Their parents divorced, or they moved to a new city/community. One student told me that she just gave up on school when her dad went to prison.

You then have an opportunity to be empathetic, acknowledge their hardship, and set some goals together for them to improve academically. I’ve also used this data to refer students for further counseling services or advocate for additional support for them.

3. From Standardized Test Scores

Taking a look at previous standardized test scores for your current students is beneficial in several ways. A disclaimer: Just as one grade does not determine all that a student is or isn’t, neither does one test score. Use standardized testing results along with other data (e.g., in-class assignments and observations) when making instructional decisions. That said, here are some suggestions for using standardized test data:

Share Testing Results With Students Individually: After doing this, set some obtainable, realistic goals for each of them to work toward before the next test. (By the way, I don’t agree with making this data public for other students to see, as was done at one Orange County, California, high school.)

Use the Data to Decide Student Grouping and Differentiation: Standardized test data reveals how your students performed: advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic. This could help inform how you choose student groups, create seating charts, and differentiate for individuals. For example, if I have a student who has historically scored below basic and exhibits other signs of a struggling student, I like to place her in the front of the class so that I can easily access her when she needs extra support. If you have a large number of students who scored advanced in your third period class, and a large number of students who scored basic in period two, this may give insight into why period three is moving more quickly and more deeply through content. You can adjust the learning and support accordingly.

Get Curious About Contradictions and Take Action: How about that ace student who didn’t do so well on the standardized test? Possibly a nervous test-taker? Or it could simply be low motivation, since many students never hear about their standardized test results from previous years? Prior to a test, a brief pep talk or quick review of strategies for lowering test anxiety could be all they need. Also, there is much information to be gained from having individual conversations with students who have these contradictions between their standardized test scores and their classroom grades and performance.


Understanding type confusion vulnerabilities: CVE-2015-0336

In March 2014, we observed a patched Adobe Flash vulnerability (CVE-2015-0336) being exploited in the wild. Adobe released the patch on March 12, 2014, and exploit code using this vulnerability first appeared about a week later.

To help stay protected:

  • Keep your Microsoft security software, such as Windows Defender for Windows 8.1 up-to-date .
  • Keep your third-party software, such as Adobe Flash Player , up-to-date.
  • Be cautious when browsing potentially malicious or compromised websites.
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This blog digs deeper into the technique and tactics the attacker used to exploit this vulnerability. Understanding these techniques can help you better defend your enterprise software security infrastructure against similar exploits.

First things first, let’s talk about the vulnerability itself. The vulnerability is a “type confusion”, a common technique with ActionScript Virtual Machine. Usually, when a piece of code doesn’t verify the type of object that is passed to it, and uses it blindly without type-checking, it leads to type confusion. Type confusion can be very dangerous because a type is expressed as a layout of memory in the lower level implementation of Flash Player. Also with type confusion, wrong function pointers or data are fed into the wrong piece of code. In some circumstances this can lead to code execution.

Figure 1 shows the CVE-2015-0336 exploit code that triggers the vulnerability. This piece of code resembles the proof of concept code detailed by the finder, however, the details are somewhat different.

The first difference is the usage of an ASnative(2100,200) call instead of a NetConnection class initiation. Also, the code that triggers the confusion is different. The exploit utilizes method 8 (line 9) and calls to apply method of NetConnection function object to trigger the type confusion. The original Google Project Zero code used method 1 and a call method on this object.

Figure 1: Exploit code that triggers type confusion

The object that is passed to ASnative(2100,8) function is the _loc_2 object. The _loc2_ object is an ASnative function object that doesn’t exist. It’s just a placeholder for a function object. However, this ASnative object from line number 5 is very important in the exploitation technique, as discussed below.

The _loc2_ object is not a NetConnection object at all – its __proto__ property is set to an Object type object (_loc3_). ASnative(2100,200) is a constructor for the NetConnection object and this _loc3_ object is initialized to the NetConnection type at line 8. This makes the line 9 code to use the non-NetConnection object as a NetConnection object and treats the object’s memory layout as if it is a NetConnection object. Figure 2 shows the actual code that checks for the __proto__ property. With an updated binary, this part is fixed with more sanity checks to prevent unwanted objects passed down further into the code below.

Figure 2: The proto object check routine

The function that checks code for the proto object is actually a function that processes the ASnative(200,x) commands. It has a jump table that processes each function cases, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Jump table for function dispatch

The function number 8 falls through the jump table to the code piece as shown in Figure 4. If all the payload and vector spray code is removed from the exploit, it will crash.

Figure 4: Crash point

The actual crash point looks like this:

7061f9b2 8b4f7c mov ecx,dword ptr [edi+7Ch] ds:002b:1a1e207c=.

It tries to access an invalid memory pointed to by the non-NetConnection object.

At this point, edi designates the start of the object as 0x1a1e2000. This value is directly controlled by the attacker. From the code below, 438181888 is actually 0x1a1e2000. This is an unexpected feature with ASnative and the ActionScript engine. You can control exactly what ASnative (edi) designates here:

var _loc2_ = _global.ASnative(2100,438181888);

The exploit author tried to find and use an instruction that writes a field inside the fake object. First, it sprays a lot of vector objects on the memory. The specific exploit that we analyzed creates more than 120,000 counts of vector. objects with a length of 0x3FE, as shown in Figure 5. After spraying these objects, it shrinks the size of each vectors to 0x1E to make some empty rooms.

Figure 5: Vector object creation

We know that the fake ASnative object points to 0x1a1e2000 and that this address is allocated by the exploit code with the vector. object from heap spray code, as shown in Figure 6.

From our testing, the allocation behavior from the ActionScript virtual machine was predictable, and we saw 100% allocation of this memory area. The attacker acquires full control over the contents of the fake NetConnection object. Whatever value it fills for the object from the vector. array will be recognized as a NetConnection object.

Figure 6: Vector. with a size of 0x1e is used as a fake NetConnection object

This fake NetConnection object is passed to various functions and treated as a real NetConnection object. The attacker figured out that they can use function 8 to achieve vector corruption. Function 8 has one of the subroutines that passes one of the NetConnection member objects located at the offset of 0x7C, as shown in Figure 6. The object’s variable at offset 0xBD8 is overwritten later by an instruction.

Figure 7 shows the data flow and how a specific memory location can be written with a value from the new function call. The overwritten location is 0x1a1e2001 – right inside the vector.length field. Now the exploit has full control over an excessive amount of memory area. With this extra power, it can perform additional vector corruption to open up full range memory control.

Figure 7: How vector corruption occurs

After the vector corruption, the exploit builds an ROP chain and shellcode by reading into the process memory and collecting the required gadget locations. The exploitation creates a FileReference object on the memory and overwrites its cancel method to the attacker-controlled code.

After that, it calls the FileReference.cancel method to pass control to malicious code.

In conclusion, this vulnerability resides in the old ActionScript 2 engine, an area that was ignored by malicious attackers for some time. However, now that a vulnerability in this legacy code has been revealed, we might see more exploited.

When the vulnerability itself is a type confusion, exploiting it is relatively easy for an attacker utilizing old methods of corrupt vector objects. The predictable behavior of vector allocation and layout implementation of Adobe Flash Player has been exploited for some time. Using the vector corruption method, an attacker can gain a reliable entry point to further exploit vulnerabilities that are otherwise not so simple to exploit.

Understanding how this exploit works helps us to be better prepared to detect and patch future exploits. Exploits such as this are usually delivered through exploit kits.

Talk to us

Questions, concerns, or insights on this story? Join discussions at the Microsoft community and Windows Defender Security Intelligence.


Differentiating Instruction for Success in Special Education

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

  • M.Ed., Special Education, West Chester University
  • B.A., Elementary Education, University of Pittsburgh

Differentiation is the way a teacher prepares instruction to meet the needs of all the children in an inclusive classroom, from the most challenged to the most gifted. Differentiating instruction is not only going to help your special education students fully participate, it will also enrich and improve the experience of the general education students. Everybody wins.

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A well designed differentiated lesson will include some of the following: A strong visual component, collaborative activities, peer coaching, a multi-sensory approach to presenting information and differentiated assessment based on strengths.

A Strong Visual Component

Aren’t digital cameras and online image searches wonderful resources? Children with reading problems have a great deal less difficulty dealing with pictures than symbols. You might even have teams of children work together to gather pictures for instruction, or you might ask Mom to email you some favorite vacation pictures. Autistic students can benefit from the use of cards to learn sight vocabulary, attributes, safety signs and to evaluate new vocabulary.

Collaborative Activities

Collaboration will be the mark of a successful leader and employee in the future, so this is a skill all students will need. We also know that children learn best from peers. One of the strongest reasons for inclusion is the fact that working across ability groups «pulls up» the lower functioning group. You need to take time to teach collaboration, using a «fishbowl» approach. Have a group of students model the process of collaboration, and then evaluate their performance as a group. As you are teaching a lesson using collaborative teams, spend time evaluating them as a group: Did everyone get a chance to talk? Did everyone participate? If you observe that groups are not functioning well, you may need to move in, stop, and do some coaching.

Peer Coaching

It’s a good idea to create several «partners» for every child in the class. One method involves 4 pairings in each class a clock face to illustrate: a 12 o’clock partner, with a student most like each student in ability (assigned by the teacher,) a 6 o’clock partner, who is the opposite level of ability, and 3 and 9 o’clock partners of their choosing.

Spend time early in the year training your students to work in partnerships. You might try «trust walks» with your partners, having each child take turns walking their blindfolded partner around the classroom with only spoken directions. Be sure to debrief with your class, and talk about the importance of listening to each other and understanding each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Be sure you model the kind of positive interpersonal interactions you want to see from kids.

Peer coaches can help each other with flashcards, with written assignments, and with collaborative activities.

A Multi-Sensory Approach

We are way too dependent on print as a way to introduce new information. Some of the children with IEP’s may have strengths in unexpected areas: they may be great illustrators, creative builders, and very capable at gathering information visually on the internet. The more sensory avenues you engage as you are introducing new material, the more likely all your students will retain it.

Do some tasting with a social studies lesson: How about coconut for a unit on the Pacific, or trying some salsa when you are learning about Mexico?

How about movement? You can use a «molecule» game to teach children what happened when you heat elements. When you «turned up the heat» (orally, and raising my hand to raise the temperature) they would rush around the room as far apart as possible. When you drop the temperature (and my hand) the students would gather together and move just a little bit, slowly. You can bet every one of those kids remembered what happened when you heat a liquid or gas!

Assessment that Builds on Strengths ​

There are lots of ways to assess mastery other than a multiple choice test. Rubrics are one great way to create clear ways for students to show they have mastered the materials. A portfolio may be another way. Rather than asking a student to write, you may ask a student to sort or group pictures according to criteria you have learned, name pictures, or have the students answer questions that help them display knowledge of new materials.


What Does a Police Officer Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Jo Zixuan Zhou © The Balance

Law enforcement personnel are needed at all levels of government. Federal agencies enforce federal law; state agencies enforce state and federal laws; and local agencies enforce federal, state, and local laws. While police officers may go by different names, such as officer, investigator agent, they protect the public by investigating crimes and apprehending criminals.

The federal government’s principal law enforcement agency is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Other federal law enforcement agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Border Patrol; Federal Air Marshals; and Secret Service. Other agencies, such as the United States Postal Service and Forest Service, employ law enforcement personnel, but their primary missions are not law enforcement.

State police agencies operate within the boundaries of their states. Similar to the federal government, state agencies perform non-law enforcement duties but may also employ sworn officers. State universities have police departments that have jurisdiction over the campus and assist city police departments in cases and incidents around the campus.

Local police officers are employed by cities, counties, school districts, and community colleges. An average citizen typically comes into contact with police officers during routine traffic stops, so local police officers are what most people think of when they hear the term police officer.

A career as a police officer is extremely dangerous, but it can be very rewarding. Officers make their jurisdictions safer every day. By simply making their presence known, police officers can prevent many crimes. When crimes do occur, police officers are the first responders who assess the situation, mitigate any remaining danger, secure evidence, and assist victims and witnesses.

Police Officer Duties & Responsibilities

A police officer’s duties vary by the type of law enforcement agency. Other than FBI agents, federal police officers stick to their niche. For example, federal air marshals stick to preventing crimes aboard commercial flights.

State police officers assist federal and local law enforcement in executing their duties. There are also specialized law enforcement groups such as the Texas Rangers that investigate particular types of crime.

Local police officers have a wide variety of duties including the following:

  • Patrolling areas by car, motorcycle, horse, or on foot
  • Directing traffic for special events, traffic signal malfunctions, and traffic accidents
  • Issuing traffic citations
  • Apprehending criminals
  • Controlling crowds
  • Transporting prisoners
  • Serving arrest warrants and subpoenas
  • Testifying in courts of law
  • Assisting detectives, crime scene investigators, and evidence technicians in processing crime scenes
  • Writing reports
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Do not underestimate the proportion of time writing reports will take. Officers at all levels must report their activities to their superiors, fellow officers, and the public. In many cases, these reports become key pieces of evidence for prosecutors.

A common misconception about police officers is that they frequently use their guns. On television, this may be the case, but in real life officer rarely draw their sidearms, and most officers fire their weapons only a few times over their careers. To the greatest extent possible, police officers use words to diffuse tense situations.

This fact is underscored by how police departments account for their supplies. Police departments keep an inventory of bullets not by the box but by the bullet. When officers write reports about incidents where they discharge their weapons, they must account for each shot. Crime scene investigators and evidence technicians can tell where the bullets went, what they hit and the damage they caused, but only the officer who fired them knows the reason.

Police Officer Salary

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers earned the following salary:

  • Median Annual Salary: $63,380 ($30.47/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $106,090 ($51.00/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $36,550 ($17.57/hour)  

Education, Training, & Certification

There is no standard education requirement across law enforcement agencies, as education and experience requirements vary:

  • Academia: Some agencies require only a high school degree, while others require a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is required to be a federal police officer. Advanced degrees are not necessary for entry-level police officer positions.
  • On-the-Job Training: Prior experience is not necessary to become a police officer. However, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years of age. In addition, the hiring agency will teach new hires everything they need to know.
  • Training program: Once new officers are hired, their employers send them through an extensive training program. Larger police departments conduct these training in-house, but most departments send their new recruits to state or regional training and certification programs. The training programs combine classroom instruction with practical application. These programs typically last several months. The curriculum covers a wide variety of topics including law, civil rights, investigation techniques, traffic control, emergency response, self-defense, first aid, and firearms. New officers should come out of the program with knowledge and skills they can apply immediately on the job. Their departments will likely have them paired with veteran officers until they are ready to perform their duties on their own.

Police Officer Skills & Competencies

In many law enforcement agencies, there are different rules governing how law enforcement personnel are hired. In most states, civil service regulations dictate certain parameters that agencies must work within during the hiring process.

In addition to normal hiring procedures, candidates must go through written and physical tests. The written tests may measure a variety of items including a candidate’s aptitude for police work, as well as the following:

  • Critical thinking skills: The ability to determine the best way to solve a range of problems
  • Empathy: The ability to understand the perspectives of many people and have a willingness to help the public
  • Psychological stability: The ability to withstand emotional, physical, and mentally taxing experiences
  • Strength and agility: The ability to keep up with the daily rigors of the job, such as apprehending offenders
  • Leadership skills: The ability to be in a highly visible position in the community, as the public looks to you for assistance
  • Communication and negotiation skills: The ability to deal effectively with others who may be frightened or irrational, such as a kidnapper or burglar

Failure on either type of test means elimination from the hiring process. Background checks, drug tests, and lie detector tests are also likely to be part of the hiring process.

Police officers should be in good physical condition. A habit of regular exercise and experience in competitive sports are helpful both in the training process and once on the job. If you plan on eating a lot of donuts, you’ll have to hit the gym harder than your colleagues. Bilingual skills are also a plus because quick and clear communication can make the difference between life and death in emergency situations.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018, employment opportunities for police officers is projected to grow 7% until 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job applicants may face competition due to low levels of job turnover, however, military experience is helpful on an application, as is experience in private security, private investigation, and auditing, which can all increase your chances of finding a job.

Work Environment

Police work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Officers must be alert and ready to react throughout their entire shift. They mainly work at crime and accident scenes and encounter suffering and the aftermath of violence. Although the job can be difficult, it can also be rewarding to help people in need.

Travel may be required if you work for a federal agency. While you may spend some time in an office writing reports and performing administrative tasks, you will likely be outdoors in all kinds of weather.,

Work Schedule

Police officers usually work full time. A significant benefit to a career in law enforcement is overtime pay. Police officers have frequent opportunities to earn overtime. Some departments offer shift differential pay for officers who routinely work overnight and weekend shifts. If you do not mind working long or odd hours, you can make a lot of extra money doing the same job you do during normal business hours.

How to Get the Job


Contact your local police precinct to inquire about job opportunities. (Note that minimum and sometimes maximum age requirements must be met.) In addition, look at job boards such as Monster and Indeed, or job sites in your state. For example, PoliceApp advertises job listings in New Jersey. These sites may also provide assistance with resume and cover letter writing, as well as interview techniques.


Consider other similar open positions to get in the industry, such as investigative work perhaps assisting an investigator or providing security at a night club.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People who are interested in a career as a police officer may want to consider these similar careers, along with their median annual salary:


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