How to Get Started with a Data Initiative
- Keep It Simple: The universe of potential data points can be overwhelming, so narrow it down, says Anthony Padrnos, executive director of technology at Osseo Area Schools in Minnesota. Identify three to five elements you want to explore, then build competency and culture around them.
- Align to Your Questions: Make sure your program delivers the intended results, says Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign. “So often, we set up a data system or infrastructure that can hold an awful lot of stuff, but it may not answer the key questions we need to drive improvement,” she says.
- Focus on Users: Bring all the stakeholders to the table, says Mark Howard, chief of performance accountability at the School District of Palm Beach County. “Get their voice up front. There are a lot of technical elements, but the technology has to work for the end user.” A corollary: “Don’t assume you know what people need.”
- >Make Data a Priority: Time and resources are limited, notes Michelle Velikorodnyy, principal of Saugus Union School District’s Charles Helmers Elementary School, in California. If a data-driven culture is the priority, other projects might take a back seat or be handled via email rather than consume valuable meeting time. “It has to be very intentional. Otherwise, it won’t happen,” she says.
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