Using Data to Drive School Improvement: 5 Tips

School administrators juggle many tasks and strive to meet many objectives. Of course, the ultimate goal is ensuring the overall success of the school. By using data to drive school improvement, administrators can make sound decisions, set and prioritize goals, and track progress.

In this article, you’ll find five tips on using data to steer your school toward success.

5 Tips on Using Data to Drive School Improvement

Effectiveness indicators that can be tied to data include rigorous content standards, school climate, family and community relationships, quality teaching and professional development, and more.

Here’s how to leverage data to improve in these key areas:

1. Set measurable goals.

Data-driven improvement begins with setting goals. Of course, these goals should be related to your school’s mission. If you’ve already collected some data, you can use it to inform the goals you set.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Try not to focus on too many goals at once, choosing quality over quantity.

These goals will be the compass that guides your entire staff in the same direction.

2. Determine how you will collect data.

Now that you’ve set your goals, you must ask: What do we need to know to monitor our progress?

First, remember that data does not solely include test scores. Data can come from many sources, including teachers, students, and families. You may gather data in the form of graduation, attendance, and promotion rates; participation rates in various activities; pretests vs. post-tests; number of discipline referrals each quarter; etc.

Administrators can collect data through surveys/questionnaires, teacher logs, classroom observations, work samples and portfolios, and much more.

Consider the goals you’ve set, then choose the best methods to measure them. Then, start collecting your data!

3. Analyze data.

Next, it’s time to analyze and interpret your data. Experts recommend the following:

  • Use data from the same sources each year, if possible.
  • Using multiple measures, collect and analyze as much data as you can.
  • Consider the size, characteristics, and nature of the group you’re testing.
  • Compare data from different groups of students (disaggregated data). You want to increase excellence for all students while reducing gaps in performance between groups.

Create 3-4 summary statements based on your analysis. What have you learned from examining the data? Are you progressing toward your goals? If not, what do you think the problem is? Where do you see room for improvement?

4. Take action.

After summarizing your data, use it to determine next steps. If you’re on the right track, what do you need to keep doing? If you’re falling short, what changes can you make to move closer to your goal?

Develop a plan and follow through with it.

5. Continue evaluating data.

Once you’ve taken action, analyze data again. Did your actions work? Continue with your plan or adjust it accordingly.

Remember that you should allow several months for your actions to have an effect. Additionally, you must be consistent in implementing your plan if you want to see meaningful change.

Final Thoughts: Using Data to Drive School Improvement

As a school administrator, you’re constantly faced with important decisions. And to make good decisions, you need data. Gathering and analyzing data is the most effective way to drive continuous school improvement.

First, you’ll need to have a mission. Then, devise goals related to your mission. Determine how you can best measure these goals, and be sure to use multiple measures.

Once you have data, you enter into a cycle of analyzing the data, taking action, and collecting and analyzing data again.

When you’ve found a plan that works, stick with it. As you achieve your initial goals, use data to find other areas that need improvement and set new goals.

Continuous improvement takes time. TUIO can help you free up your time for what matters using centralized electronic billing and payments. If you’d like to see for yourself what TUIO can do for your organization, schedule a demo and/or read some of our customer testimonials.

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