How Data Availability Changes the Approach in the Classroom
In her district, Reeves spends time analyzing raw student data and pulling it into spreadsheets for her team of educators. When an audience member asked how to find time for that amid many other administrator tasks, another conferencegoer answered.
“I’m in the tech center in our school, and I’m there to figure out what data principals want to look at,” he said, adding that admins should contact their own tech departments to see how they can help.
Reeves expressed gratitude for her own robust school administration staff and tech coordinator. “Utilize the resources you have,” she urged attendees.
The process has allowed her to work with the teachers in her district to create structured personalized learning plans. On “data-digging days,” Reeves works with teachers to analyze data and set goals for students in their classes.
After setting a SMART goal — one that includes a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound objective — teachers can fill out a template that outlines how they’ll help each student. It includes actionable solutions for students who need remediation and enrichment for students who are already where they need to be.
Operationalizing her district’s student data has allowed Reeves and her staff to better support students’ individual needs. She said it allows educators to encourage students’ growth beyond the years they’re teaching them. Working with other teachers in the grade levels above and below them, educators can prepare for the specific needs of the students they’ll be teaching.
Interoperability Will Allow Schools to Scale Their Use of Data
Operationalizing data for individualized instruction can boost test scores and student confidence, but it becomes a point of frustration when data systems aren’t interoperable.
“Data can be such a powerful tool, and we have all this data in systems that don’t talk to each other,” Bearden said.
She spoke to a crowd that included many educators and IT leaders familiar with the frustrations of data analysis.
One audience member pointed to inflexibility as a challenge that stems from a lack of interoperability. “When changing your LMS, you have to look at the data you have and see if it will work in the new system, which limits the vendors you can go to,” he said.
To make data operational at scale, vendors must adopt data standards, Bearden said, adding that many of our technologies use standards today that we don’t even consider. She pointed to Bluetooth, ATMs and electrical outlets as examples.
She encouraged administrators to push vendors to adopt standards and, in the meantime, to check out Project Unicorn, a program within InnovateEDU. Not only does Project Unicorn advocate for data interoperability on behalf of K–12 schools, it also offers myriad resources on making data systems work together.