Schools Embracing Data, Metrics to Improve Effectiveness


Businesses aren’t the only ones embracing data, metrics and analytics as more schools across the country are working to improve daily operations by using data to optimize their schools’ efficiency.

From classroom cleanliness to algebra knowledge, data helps schools, administrators, students and teachers get a better understanding of why they do what they do and what they can change to progress even further.

Riverside Elementary School in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin is a school that embraces data analysis across operations, Motoko Rich writes for the NY Times. Five-year-old students are getting familiar with the problem solving cycle of “Plan-Do-Study-Act” while 7 year olds learn how to maintain their personal data binders in which they record their math and reading progress throughout a year. Alyssa Walter, a seven-year old student that keeps such a data collection binder, says:

“I like that it makes school more fun, and I like that you get to keep track of goals. . . . [it] makes me feel proud of myself.”

Riverside is but one school acknowledging the importance of data to offering insightful metrics for students and teachers alike. In Jenks, Oklahoma, the school district measures and reports on teachers’ photocopier usage. When photocopy machine uses is on the rise, curriculum supervisors can step in and offer support to teachers in the form of collecting additional resources or helping them plan their lessons.

According to the NY Daily News, performance tracking software has been distributed across schools in New York in an effort to help schools measure with laser-focused accuracy both student and faculty performance, Ben Chapman writes. “Progress to Graduation” offers real-time information to students and teachers regarding student grades, attendance and other education-related data. Such software offer valuable insights on possible obstacles interfering with students’ academic success. City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña touted its value to the NY Daily News:

“In my many years as an educator, I’ve used data to drive improved outcomes for students and schools. . . . The new data platforms we’re releasing will bring a tremendous benefit to principals and teachers.”

Data tracking software and analytics help schools save time, put in place better strategies and allow educators real-time access to valuable student metrics they can use to improve their lessons and support students better. Courtney Winkfield Academy for Young Writers principal believes data software is an education game-changer:

“Data like this is going to help us create the timely interventions to be able to support students at every level.”

Aimee Rogstad Guidera, president of the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy organization says data helps decision-makers take the right decision not based on gut feeling and intuition but facts and measurable data. She considers the introduction of data in a education a major cultural shift:

“We’ve been making most decisions up until now by anecdote or by hunch or who had the greatest sales pitch or what worked when I was in school.”

Some are concerned the shift of focus on data might lead to the neglect of non-measurable factors like creativity and imagination and is more likely to nurture a testing culture in schools.

“If you only look at the numbers, and you don’t probe and look at the learning environment, the culture of the school or the relationships between teachers and students, you’re going to miss out on a lot,” says Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education at  New York University.