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Experts: Here’s how to turn data into achievement

Experts: Here's how to turn data into achievement

During AASA’s National Conference on Education, superintendents look for guidance on overcoming fears of school data use

data

“We need to change the conversation from data as a hammer to data as a flashlight,” Guidera said.

School systems are collecting a “tremendous amount” of data about their students, said Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), but how can they use this information to improve instruction?

That was the focus of a thought-provoking session at AASA’s National Conference on Education in Nashville Feb. 13. During the session, panelists agreed that the answer to this question relies on changing the entire culture around school data use.

“Data has gotten a bad rap in schools,” acknowledged Aimee Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign, a national nonprofit advocacy group that works to improve student achievement through effective data use.

She added: “We need to change the conversation from data as a hammer to data as a flashlight,” or a tool that can be used “to shine a light on what’s working” in schools.

Building data systems to collect and analyze student data is the easy part, Guidera said. The hard part is the “human piece”—getting teachers and other stakeholders to use, and trust, these systems.

Keith Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), said school districts are “drowning in data,” but most of this information is being reported “up to states or out to parents.” For data to improve instruction, it has to be timely and flow in all directions, he said—including to and from the classroom.

(Next page: A free resource for schools—and advice on overcoming concerns about data use from teachers and parents)

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