School Data: Using Numbers to Achieve Your Highest Priorities
Author: Lynne Fox
September 3, 2014
School data is a fairly new area for educators in terms of wealth of information and how to make it applicable to their schools. In the current age of accountability, we as educators have access to enormous amounts of school data that can be tracked, reported, and used to drive measurable results. Unfortunately, with so many school data points at our disposal, we are often not able to harness the power of the school data to achieve our highest priorities.
What can we do in this data-driven world if we are struggling with harnessing the data that should drive our goals?
School Data: Work By Design Rather Than By Default
The key is to work by design rather than by default. Working by design rather than by default can be achieved in a few steps.
Identify and/or Refine Your Mission
Identifying your or your school’s mission statement is as simple as figuring out the reason for why your school exists. When working on your or your school’s mission statement, remember to involve input from all stakeholders. Also, make sure the mission statement identifies the core values of the school or district. If identifying the mission statement is proving challenging, try looking at your school data to reaffirm the mission statement.
Establish a Shared Vision Statement
This is a blueprint for how your school will achieve your mission. A vision statement is a one-line declaration that should be easy to recite, is measurable and inspirational, and could fit on a T-shirt. It is the rallying point that says to the world: “This is what we are all about!”
Identify and Align Your Most Important Goal Areas
This is your school’s highest priorities. With your vision in mind, align goals from the student to the school to the district. When there is a common framework and path at all levels, it helps you identify your highest priorities. Choose the key school data points that align with your mission and vision and focus your goal setting in these areas.
These three steps are essential for schools and districts to begin working by design rather than by default. Everyone has a common understanding of the mission and vision and the goals necessary to achieve them. With this understanding, stakeholders will have clear map by which they can reach the same destination together. The understanding isn’t left up to chance and people are more empowered to achieve the common goals.
Once a culture has been designed with common mission, vision, and goals on a district, school, grade, and individual level, there is a multiplication of effort. By design, each entity’s goals build on the goals of the others.
If each student’s individual measurable goals are met, the grade-level goals will be met by design; if each grade-level goal is met, the school’s goals will be satisfied; if each school’s goals are satisfied, the district will be successful.
Alignment anchored in student empowerment through the goal-setting process gives structure, strength, and cohesiveness that can bring together the mission and vision to guide all stakeholders toward the end goal by design rather than by default.
So great school leaders: empower yourself, your staff, and your students—by design—to achieve your highest priorities!