Districts can leverage technology to make continuous school improvement an achievable and rewarding challenge for school leadership.
The concept of “school improvement” is complex and multifaceted. On one hand, it requires school and district leadership to periodically create tangible school improvement plans that outline distinct goals for a specific period of time. On the other hand, school improvement is a nebulous and never-ending process; each day, week, and year reveal new challenges to and opportunities for building a more effective school.
That’s especially true in the wake of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which went into effect during the 2017-18 school year. While ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, required districts to measure growth using a diagnostic metric called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), ESSA has placed a strong but more flexible emphasis on continuous school improvement by enabling districts to develop their own accountability systems within a set of overarching guidelines.
However, this autonomy can introduce some unexpected complexities. Notably, the state and district leadership teams that develop and execute these accountability systems must be equipped to measure progress toward the goals they’ve created, identify schools not meeting the goals, and create plans to improve schools that are not serving all students — practices that require a high level of data fluency.
For many school districts, fostering this data literacy requires developing an overarching, district-wide data framework from the ground up.
The Foundation of a Data-Driven District
Effective, performance-driven school districts all have one thing in common: a strong foundation for data-driven decision making, one comprised of specific, measurable goals at every level. Building on this foundation, these districts produce collaborative but uniform curricula that reflect their stated initiatives and priorities.
Among other things, aligned curricula help streamline the data reporting process and establish baseline performance. When classes in the same subject and grade level teach standardized content on a similar timeline, principals are able to more accurately monitor student progress, contextualize performance, and take appropriate action when and where it’s necessary.
What’s more, if district administrators expect principals and other school leaders to consistently record and leverage school data, they must equip them with the right digital tools to do so effectively. Sophisticated data management systems have the potential to transform the way schools monitor their progress toward specific benchmarks — but not all data management systems are created equal.
When evaluating potential platforms, districts must prioritize solutions that integrate seamlessly with their existing digital tools, offer rich data visualization capabilities, and make the process of recording data intuitive for educators. A data management system should work for and with educators, serving as the bedrock of a district’s data-driven culture.
Creating a School Improvement Feedback Loop
Data-driven school improvement requires administrative buy-in, but even the best-laid plans are destined to fail without the support of classroom teachers. It’s impossible to reliably monitor student progress without the hard work of those who interface with students every day. As such, districts must build a culture of data literacy that empowers educators at every level.
An organized, user-friendly data infrastructure can encourage teachers to meaningfully engage with critical data, as can district-wide investment in aligned, data-oriented professional development. Many of the districts Hoonuit works with have achieved success by appointing designated data leaders within each school and encouraging educators to actively collaborate across grade levels, subjects, and schools.
Ultimately, empowering principals to create and execute effective school improvement plans means crafting a district-wide culture of support and tangible on-the-ground teacher training, both of which are achievable with the help of Hoonuit.
Hoonuit enables districts to embed relevant professional development resources directly into our sophisticated, comprehensive data management and analytics platform. With our out-of-the-box dashboard solutions, our goal is to empower educators to make data-driven decisions. We provide you with the framework, training, and support your educators need to drive results. To learn more about how we can help your school meet its improvement goals, click here.
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