In schools across the country, administrators are collecting data in various ways in order to make informed decisions for their district. In addition to student testing, surveying staff, faculty, and students can produce data on issues like school climate, community involvement, parent communication, and more. With all of this time spent on collecting information for school improvement, it’s vital that superintendents take the initiative to use it for change. Without using data to make decisions for your schools, community, and district, you are blindly guessing. There are so many different software apps that will not only collect the data for you, but organize, synthesize, and simplify the results in order for you to make the best decision possible.
There are three major steps schools must take to use data collection to drive its decision making:
1) Organize the information
If you are using paper surveys that need to be collected and tallied, stop. There are SO many data collecting apps that you could be using, and many of them are free. The whole point of data-driven decision making is to make improvements in your schools, so take advantage of the technology available to you and let it do the hard work. Apps like GoFormative, Script, or Fedena are great places to start. They can track and collect information for you to view in a neat and tidy format. This also allows you to easily share the information with stakeholders and staff.
2) Set your goals
What was the purpose of your data collection? What were you hoping to discover? Or, what have you discovered because of the data? Be clear about what you want to see happen. If your goals are not explicit, they will be more difficult to accomplish. This could include goals for your academic or financial fiscal year, student test scores, teacher communication, attendance, or whatever else your district needs to improve. You can access your progress toward these goals easily in an app like the ones mentioned. Other options are OpenSIS or School Time.
3) Take action
As the superintendent, it’s your duty to make informed decisions that you believe best for all involved. Is a lot of time being wasted on tedious tasks that could be automated? Implement a software like Script that can collect digitized signatures, file away forms, receipts, and bills, and leave your office workers with more time for other tasks that requires their attention. Do you need to finance a much-needed school addition? Track the whole process and delegate work via the software app. Whatever is needed, according to your data, should be your focus. Get feedback from your staff and fellow administrators via apps like G Suite and be proactive.
The superintendent, and administration in general, has to make decision after decision every single day. Use the tools available to you to not only help in those decisions but to enhance them.
Collaboration and data are your keys to school improvement.