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Better data use requires better data systems

Former award-winning teacher Jenny Grant Rankin, PhD, on how to improve data systems

better-data-systemsI loved my 4-door sedan but knew it would never outrace a Lamborghini. Even if I had a driving coach and driving training, the tool I was using – in this case, the car – mattered when it came to results.

The same holds true for data reporting’s role in educators’ data use. Professional development, strong leadership, colleague support, and more are key factors in improving data use. However, the tool educators use – the data system and its reports – also matters greatly in whether or not educators understand the data and use it appropriately.

Although some data systems include tools to help educators use the system, they usually do not include adequate support for interpreting and using the data correctly. This is a missed opportunity. In fact, many data systems and reports actually encourage faulty analyses simply through bad design.

  • Score reports are frequently not designed in ways that are easy for educators to interpret.
  • Data is often not reported in formats educators need in order to use the data.
  • Data reports are not providing sufficient support to help educators analyze data they contain.
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