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A major mistake educators make when working with data is to focus too narrowly on student achievement measures. Student achievement is unquestionably the most important outcome, but it is just that, an outcome. To get insights about the changes and improvements that could increase student learning, you need to look at 3 other kinds of data–data about demographics, about students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the school and about school processes.
Victoria Bernhardt, celebrated author of 15 books about using data for continuous school improvement, shows you how to use 4 kinds of data to answer 5 essential questions that drive learning and continuous improvement. Much of this data is already available to you or easy to collect.
When schools use data effectively, they are able to see which school processes–curriculum, instruction and assessment strategies–are working and which are not working. Data on school processes can seem like the most intimidating to collect and analyze, yet they are one of the most readily available data sets.
By intersecting different kinds of data, educators can get a more well-rounded picture of their school and its challenges. Demographic data and data about student, parent and teacher perceptions help identify which student groups are experiencing school differently and can uncover hidden issues and promising strategies for improvement.
- The 4 kinds of data, the 5 essential questions
- Developing questionnaires that collect valuable information about student, parent and teacher perceptions
- Intersecting one type of data with another to replace hunches with facts
- Creating or revisiting an organizational vision
- Measuring school processes
- Developing questions you want the data to answer
- Working backwards from data to identify improvement opportunities