Building a Data-Driven School or District

Educational Building Blocks at School

Schools suffer when communication breaks down. Establishing a data-driven environment, one which emphasizes the importance of using measurable evidence to support decisions, has been proven to improve transparency, accountability, and the transfer of information between educators, students, and school administrators.

What is data?

A school’s data is a collection of facts and statistics gathered to provide a clear point of reference for deeper analysis. Assessment data can be a valuable starting point. Formative and summative assessments can be used to create a benchmark metric for where students are in their level of proficiency at the start of the school year and to measure growth throughout the year.

Assessment in Education

Formative Assessment

• as it happens
• “low stakes”
• focus on the process

Data helps paint an emerging picture by giving immediate feedback, allowing teachers and principals to evaluate a program or new curricular approach on-the-fly.

Summative Assessment

• after-action review
• evaluate program effectiveness
• focus on outcomes

Data provides evidence of progress or degradation over time. Information is gathered via exams, evaluations, surveys, and self-reports, which form a reflective aggregate of data.

While testing does play a part in the data mix, it only tells a portion of the story when it comes to measuring overall performance. Other key factors include information on student achievement, classroom morale, transportation, finances, and various school programs.

What does a data-driven school look like?”

Educational researchers and policy makers have come to the consensus that creating data-driven environments throughout the school system is essential for achieving improvement at the local, state, and national levels. In the classroom, a data-centered approach allows teachers to clearly identify areas of improvement and measure growth against pre-determined baselines.

It’s important to emphasize that a data-driven environment is not something that can be imported into a school or district. Instead, it should be approached as simply a means of better articulating the current environment through measurement.

The goal of every educator should be to turn their data into useful information. Research suggests high burnout rates amongst students and teachers when they feel the pressure of being monitored, so it’s crucial to know what you’re evaluating, why you’re measuring it, and how to use your data effectively.

For more information on establishing a data-driven environment in your school or district: