Using Data to Take Action: Integrating Professional Development into Dashboards

Posted by Courtney StevensO

April 23, 2019

You know which students need help, now how do you help them? Integrating professional development resources into data dashboards empowers teachers to take precise, meaningful action.


In 2019, it’s hardly controversial to suggest that data is important to improving educational outcomes. Thanks in part to the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in late 2015, you’d be hard-pressed to find a school district that isn’t meticulously recording test scores, absences, tardies, and a host of other student-level data. ESSA’s stringent reporting requirements place increased data collection demands on educators, but when properly deployed, the resulting data has the potential to make teachers’ work far more efficient and effective over time.


That’s because data has the potential to focus a teacher’s energy where it’s needed most. Data analytics systems like Hoonuit’s can alert teachers to students who are at the highest risk of not graduating on time based on a number of interconnected factors, ranging from attendance to test scores to behavior. For example, an average middle or high school teacher may know that 20 or 30 of the 150 students enrolled in their classes have more absences than they should, but it’s possible that six of these students are at the highest risk of not crossing the stage at graduation.


A couple decades ago, it would have been incredibly difficult for the teacher to pinpoint the truly at-risk students within the broader group of high-absence students. Fortunately, these days, data systems are better equipped to help educators draw meaningful connections and actionable conclusions about the goings-on in their classrooms. Delivering extra support to those six high-risk students is a far more manageable task than delivering the same high level of support to 20 or 30 students — students who may only need a lower, less resource-intensive level of support to succeed. This means teachers are now able to strategically direct their energies to the students who need them most.


Example of a Hoonuit classroom dashboard


Of course, leveraging data to improve the precision of at-risk student identification is an important first step, but for many teachers, doing so begs the question: what do I actually do now to support these students?


Connecting Actionable Insights to Informed Actions


All too often, teachers who are provided with targeted, meaningful insights aren’t prepared to put them into use in an effective way. They often end up turning to Google or asking their more seasoned colleagues, “How can I help a student who’s at risk of not graduating, who rarely comes to school, who’s from an underprivileged background, and who doesn’t seem interested in learning?”


These are big questions, and they take time, research, and experience to answer. But with teachers already spread so thin and the stakes so high, a trial-and-error approach to intervention is far from ideal.


That’s why it’s vital for teachers to have access to vetted, aligned, and research-based professional development (PD) resources that give them genuinely useful solutions to the problems they’re dealing with on a daily basis. But to be “genuinely useful,” these resources need to be accessible — as accessible as possible. Searching for a resource in a shared Google Drive folder or in a separate dashboard may seem like only a minor inconvenience, but with the endless — and ever-growing — demands being placed on teachers’ time, it’s far too easy for anything that requires digging or searching to be put off until later and, more often than not, never accomplished at all.

Example of a Hoonuit Professional Learning course (“Why Attendance? The Link Between Attendance and Student Success”)


The Right Information at the Right Time


This realization — that teachers don’t just need reliable resources, they need them in the right place and at the right time — was the impetus for Hoonuit’s integrated professional development tool. This tool enables educators to access high-quality professional learning content directly from the dashboards they use for their daily data collection, analysis, and reporting tasks. For example, the teacher who views a dashboard reporting that six of their 150 students are at high risk of not graduating on time will also be served short, easily digestible pieces of PD content on actionable strategies they can use to help those six students get back on track.


Example of Hoonuit’s integrated PD tool


In far too many schools, there’s a gap between PD and action; maybe professional development takes place one weekend a year, or maybe there is a list of digital modules every teacher is required to complete each semester. While professional development is an ongoing process and there’s nothing wrong with an approach that doesn’t spur immediate action, sometimes teachers need PD that speaks to the issues they are currently tackling that’s located right in the systems they are using everyday.


That’s why having a dedicated space that connects questions to answers in an actionable format is incredibly powerful — and why Hoonuit is dedicated to continuing to build out those spaces.


Learn more about Hoonuit’s educator learning experience tools here.

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