How Schools, Parents, and Communities Can Improve Outcomes with Data

Posted by Tyler CoonO

January 14, 2020

Insightful data can help schools improve student outcomes — but only if that information is readily available to educators, parents, and communities. Here’s how Hoonuit can help.

School administrators and educators have long looked for ways to bring families and community members into conversations about student and school performance. However, it’s often difficult for these stakeholders to get involved. Federally-mandated school reporting and data on local schools is difficult to find, access and interpret, making it challenging for families and community members to get the information they need.

With the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools identified for support and improvement now have to develop plans for student success with the help of these stakeholders. Families and leaders throughout the community need to be involved in the school improvement process and, accordingly, get access to readily available data on critical metrics detailing overall performance and student outcomes.

In fact, a recent report from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) found that getting families and communities more involved in schools can have a profound impact on how students perform. Similarly, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) affirms that engagement initiatives “enable families to have direct and meaningful influence and input into systems, policies, programs, or practices” that impact their children and community.

By incorporating the strategies detailed in the NMEF report — including improving access to data — schools can make families and community members equal partners in student success.

How Schools Can Boost Family and Community Engagement

Overall, the NMEF report found four foundational elements of collaboration with family and community members that are important for a school’s success. First, schools should focus on building respectful and trusting relationships between administrators and educators on the one hand, and parents, guardians, and the wider community on the other.

Second, supportive and engaged school leaders have a critical role to play in bridging the traditional divide between a student’s home life and their time in an educational setting.

Third, the report recommended investing in skilled staff who have the ability to align and coordinate with these family and community partners, helping to bring in more stakeholders to support shared goals for students.

Fourth and finally, NMEF recommended strategically employing data to determine specific priorities and put subsequent data-driven plans into action. Improving data accessibility is key to getting all stakeholders on the same page and improving student outcomes.

Where Data Fits Into Community Engagement

Unsurprisingly, data emerged as a pivotal factor in building substantive relationships between schools and their stakeholders. In studies surveyed as part of the report, NMEF found that parents and community members in school districts that provided better access to important information were more involved, communicated more effectively, and had better overall relationships with school staff. Further, AIR has found that as family engagement goes up, students show an improvement in attendance rates as well as an increase in their math and reading scores.

As NMEF’s report demonstrates, giving a wide range of stakeholders easy access to school data can benefit the academic community and boost student outcomes. By providing families and community leaders with the information they need to understand how students are performing and how they can thrive — rather than burying it in dense repositories for federally mandated school reporting data — districts can encourage engagement and make changes that are more impactful.

How Hoonuit Can Help

While many districts relegate critical information to databases hidden away on state websites, Hoonuit takes a different approach. Beginning with a design that emphasizes the transformative role parents can play in student outcomes, we provide schools with a flexible platform that makes it possible to intuitively report and publish data.

Additionally, our community engagement solution offers customizable data dashboards that empower stakeholders to easily find the information they’re interested in, understand it, and act accordingly. At Hoonuit, our solution focuses on key data questions, allowing administrators at the district and school levels to frame this data in the context of their overall strategic goals.

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