When teachers and administrators work hard to launch a career in the education field, they aren’t thinking about entering and analyzing data in spreadsheets. In today’s educational environment, however, mastering Big Data is almost mandatory for schools in search of improvement.

For example, the National Association of Elementary School Principals recommends that schools:

  • Make data part of the ongoing cycle of instructional improvement
  • Teach students to examine their own data and set learning goals
  • Establish a clear vision for schoolwide data use
  • Provide supports that foster a data-driven culture within a school
  • Develop and maintain a districtwide data system

That sounds nice, but how do you actually make that happen? At Online School Records, we’ve helped several New York school districts develop and implement custom solutions to these challenges. Here are some of the insights we’ve gained along the way:

How you collect data affects the quality of it

Collecting data has to be intuitive and integrated into the educator’s workflow. Entering the information has to be reliable; we’ve found that cloud-based solutions that save as you go (the way Google Docs does) can drastically reduce the amount of errors and problems. You can’t get actionable insights if entering the data is a chore.

Context matters

Education is personal; every student, parent, teacher, principal, and administrator has a unique set of facts that shapes their circumstances. When it’s time to make a decision based on data, it’s extremely helpful to be able to look at someone’s data in context with their personal history, as well as against averages on a class, building and even district level. When there’s a major outlier, good or bad, it prevent overreactions and encourages a deeper look at the causes.

Education is personal; every student, parent, teacher, principal, and administrator has a unique set of facts that shapes their circumstances.

Timely data can save your school year

If data is collected and displayed in an up-to-date dashboard, it can allow for interventions that prevent problems from getting worse and allocate support resources more efficiently.

Manage data expectations

Data competency doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s almost for the entire district to be marching in lock-step on Day One, even with the best possible training and launch plan. Your district will have to hone its approach to collecting, analyzing and taking action with data over time. It’s important to set a healthy tone from the outset; data is an important tool to aid in decision-making, it’s not going to be perfect right away, and the intention is to help people do their jobs even better.

Online School Records has decades of experience in helping school districts untangle technology and data questions. Learn more about our consulting services here.