Data is powerful and, when used appropriately, can increase productivity by 5-6 percent. However, data often feels like an overwhelming burden. Most educators have access to unprecedented amounts of data, but because this data lives in multiple, siloed systems and most are not trained on how to analyze it, the end result is having schools full of educators who are data rich and information poor.
“All students deserve a great education, one that affords every opportunity for them to grow into knowledgeable and successful adults. But every student has a unique background, unique strengths, and a unique path to college and a career. Everyone who has a stake in education—especially families and educators—needs the right data in the right format at the right time to serve our students along their unique journeys.” – The Data Quality Campaign
If we can collect all the necessary data points into one system and analyze it appropriately, the amount of insight gained is innumerable. Thus, communicating the significance of using data and taking advantage of it within your district are crucial steps to realizing its profound benefits.
Here are some important considerations as you are building a data-driven culture.
1. Gain a Holistic View
By only being able to access one system or data point at a time, inaccurate conclusions can be made about a school’s or student’s needs. Educators need holistic insight, across all siloed systems, into their students and programs to make effective decisions. ESSA legislation has furthered this shift by holding schools accountable to more than just math and ELA assessment scores.
Access to connected data can provide administrators, teachers, and specialists a more holistic view of every individual student. Attendance, school climate, student behavior, and other non-academic factors are also key student performance indicators. Metrics on a spreadsheet will never tell the entire story of a student. Qualitative observations through spending time and genuinely getting to know a student, paired with quality information holds significance. Teachers are empowered to understand the "whole child" by reaching all students where they are at in their educational journey and drive their learning toward career, education and life success.
2. Balance Intuition with Facts
Relying on your intuition to make decisions may lead you to actually deciding on important issues based on incomplete information. Relying only on data and not taking the time to truly understand your students and their needs may lead you to making haphazard choices. Instead, use facts paired with educator insight to encourage effective decision-making. While many schools have an abundance of data, inquiring and accessing evidence can still leave major gaps in information. Have confidence in your decision-making by bringing all your information into one place so you can rely less on your gut and more on your data.
3. Real-Time Access for Continuous Improvement
Institutions strive for continuous improvement. "School improvement" is more than a buzzword. Many school and district administrations can pull the required data. However, school improvement goes beyond annual or semi-annual reporting. It's also about leveraging that same data day-to-day, across all levels, to take action. By providing role-based insights, aligned to the school’s improvement goals, all educators can help enhance the school in a way that best serves the community and students.
Data can act as a gateway to continuous learning institutions. For instance, school districts can use data to learn about how well the school is performing based on identified key performance indicators (KPIs), formulate programs to improve low-performing KPIs, and communicate with parents and the community about these programs.
4. Secure and Protect Your Information
Student data is incredibly useful but does include sensitive information. From assessment results and personal information to longitudinal data, schools have access to tons of private information that must be protected. It's important to safeguard this sensitive data by employing secure networks, practicing safe access to content and educating your staff and students about how to protect their information when accessing school devices and systems.
5. Train Your Staff
Using data isn't just about employing fancy data analytics tools but needs to have a positive influence on learning and instruction. To ensure this, educate your staff on the effective use of data, the benefits of empowerment it can provide for educators, and its importance in driving effective decision-making. Providing job-embedded, timely professional learning can make every educator data-savvy, teaching them how to use the information they have access to.
The shift to a data-informed educational environment may seem overwhelming, but it is viable when you use the right tools. Easy-to-use, interoperable and secure systems paired with proactive professional learning can encourage a positive data culture and fuel the passion that makes educators great at what they do.
See how Hoonuit is helping educational agencies and school districts across the country by partnering with them to provide data analytics and dashboards with embedded professional development in our customer spotlight series. Then learn more about how our data management and analytics solution can do the same for you.
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