Schools that prioritize data analysis aren’t simply ESSA-compliant — they’re committed to creating improved outcomes for students, educators, and school districts by significantly adjusting their approach to their work. Improvement is underwritten by a willingness to change, adapt, and improve.
It’s no secret that nearly every major industry is utilizing data in increasingly innovative and meaningful ways. But while data may provide meaningful insights for organizations, it’s arguably even more important in education settings, where it can be leveraged to answer crucial questions about helping students be successful. Consider the following questions:
The answers to questions like these can all be answered with creative and strategic applications of data. However, successful and transformative data use doesn’t just happen. Organizations have to ensure they strategically align data resources to their key instructional and administrative tasks. A data-driven culture is not an add-on in a district’s toolkit. It has to be built and maintained by educators and leaders and embedded within meaningful work.
All of the above is pretty standard thinking across the industry. The vernacular is safe. It is also somewhat detached from the real world of schools and classrooms.
From an educator point of view, data only matters if it helps us know something we didn’t already know. If data isn’t insightful, it will offer no benefits. Worse, it will take up already scarce time and energy. So maybe we should ask the question this way: Under what conditions does data become insightful?
Let’s rephrase those bullet points from above:
I like this second bullet list much better, and I hope you do too.