Creating a Data-Informed Culture

Posted by Andrea GronbergO

August 18, 2017

Thanks to innovations in technology there is an unprecedented amount of data available to schools. However, just because school districts have data, it doesn’t mean they are actually using it to their advantage. In fact, many of the school districts we work with tell us they are data rich but “information poor.”


Data is powerful and can increase productivity by 5-6 percent if used appropriately. If collected and analyzed by educators and administrators who understand what the data means, it can be an extremely effective tool for creating a better learning experience for students and better school environments overall.


Thus, communicating the significance of using data and taking advantage of it within your district are crucial to realize its profound benefits. But how do you make the importance of data use known and leverage it in your district? Here are a few solutions:


1. Understand the “Whole Child”

Student performance, such as grades and assessment results, is one type of measurable data that’s profuse today. However, your intent for data use must be straightforward and focus on student growth in both developmental and academic areas holistically to support the “whole child.” Achieve this by encouraging your staff will be able use metrics along with informal data to create a complete picture of every of 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 genuinely spending time and 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 forward for career, educational and life success.


2. Balance Intuition with Facts

Relying on your intuition to make decisions may lead you to actually decide 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 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. Leverage Data for Continuous Improvement

Institutions strive for continuous improvement. “School improvement” is more than a huge buzzword. Many school districts are capable of pulling the required data. However, school improvement goes beyond reporting. It’s also about leveraging that same data to take action in enhancing schools 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. Protect Your Power Tool

Data is a power tool. It’s filled with not only useful information but also 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. Educating Your Staff

Using data isn’t just about employing fancy data analytics tools. Using data 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.


Creating a data-informed educational environment is viable when you use the right tools. Employing data insight can help to encourage a positive data culture and power the passion that fuels educators and makes them great at what they do. Data analytics for school district reporting and improvement helps to motivate this culture. Look for opportunities to reinforce the value of a data-informed culture while providing complete and intuitive data analytics tools to help your educators make the best possible decisions for your schools, students, and community.


Andrea Gronberg leads Hoonuit’s marketing team.  In her role, she combines creativity, strong communication skills and a passion in making a difference in the lives of learners. Andrea has seven years of experience in education technology where she has balanced her love of learning and business acumen to help transform schools.

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