Find out how district leaders can use data analysis to make more informed decisions — and bolster student success.
One challenge to improving organizational norms related to data use is that data work is often disassociated from the work of teaching and learning. Data and reporting systems are often siloed from academic and professional development decisions even though these decisions would often benefit from embedded data work. For example, school districts will often conduct workshops to facilitate school improvement planning. Incorporating training on how to use a dashboard to inform that process is a natural way to teach stakeholders how to use the resource and the data contained therein. Integrating data into the work that educators value and engage in is the best way to build a deep capacity for data work. Additionally, the quality of the work should improve overtime as staff become more adept at accessing and using those data resources.
Below we’ve outlined seven ways that school administrators can apply data analysis on a macro level to empower their communities to succeed.
1. Meet ESSA Requirements
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) sets a new standard for accountability reporting and has prompted school districts to rethink the way they analyze classroom data. As educators are likely already aware, ESSA seeks to shift the thinking around school assessment data, using it as a way to provide additional resources for schools that need them, rather than as a method by which to penalize schools that may be underperforming.
For many districts, becoming ESSA compliant has called for a total overhaul of existing systems. But with the right tools in place, administrators can focus less on the logistical burden of ESSA reporting and more on the creative, student-oriented applications of district data that ESSA encourages.
2. Inform Financial Decisions
ESSA requires administrators to report per-student expenditures at the school, district, and demographic levels, as well as publish this information in a public “report card.” While these processes can be challenging to facilitate, the results can be used to assess program effectiveness more accurately.
By automatically integrating a district’s financial data with its enrollment data, a cutting-edge data reporting and analytics platform can streamline the financial decision-making process — and ensure the administrators making those decisions understand where every dollar is going.
3. Address Chronic Absenteeism
There are several complex factors at play when it comes to chronic absenteeism, including cultural and socioeconomic issues within a district’s community. But chronic absenteeism can be hard to spot if districts aren’t consistently examining both short- and long-term patterns in attendance data.
Once they’ve identified chronic absenteeism, educators and administrators need to get to the root of the problem. Is there a transportation issue? Are students working instead of coming to school? Are students responsible for watching their younger siblings during the day? Using an intuitive data analytics platform designed for educational settings, administrators can track attendance data, quickly identify patterns, and determine what interventions will improve student attendance.
4. Make Equity (or Inequity) Visible
Aside from ESSA priorities and requirements related to equity-focused reporting, districts should be aligning their dashboards and data resources to make equity visible across the board. For example, do all student groups have equitable participation and completion rates for advanced courses? Are disciplinary actions equal across schools, teachers, and student groups? Do all staff hold high expectations for all students? Equity issues are complicated, but developing some core measures can foster change and improvement.
5. Show Relationships between Types of Data
Education systems are sufficiently complex that if you ask 100 educators to describe what drives successful student learning, you will get 100 different answers. Building coherence across staff on a systems-view of educational outcomes can lead to a sustained focus on what matters most. For example, data displays that combine social-emotional learning data along with key academic behavior and outcomes can drive discussions about how SEL, behavior, and outcomes are intertwined.
6. Create PD Plans That Work for Teachers
ESSA encourages flexible, on-the-job training that enables educators to develop strategies. Online PD offerings allow teachers to complete training at their own time, establish and reach professional goals, and pursue specific topics of interest. By integrating digital PD resources into your district’s existing training programs, district leaders can better evaluate educator progress, ensure teachers are accumulating enough credits, and discover what topics teachers are most interested in pursuing.
7. Commit to Continuous Improvement
As district administrators implement and manage new strategies, it’s important to evaluate the efficacy of each continuously. Comprehensive data collection and analysis helps educators focus on what strategies are working and move away from those that aren’t.
By integrating district-wide data sources into a single platform, administrators can more easily build a sustainable strategy for student success. Hoonuit’s intuitive, workflow-embedded platform unites disparate datasets, offering administrators an informed, holistic view of their district.
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