In the current era of maximizing accountability, school leaders increasingly are asked to make classroom-level student data available in forms that are usable in improving instructional practices. These demands require that schools and districts purchase and become proficient in using increasingly sophisticated software systems.

Two of these tools—student information systems (SIS) and learning management systems (LMS)—have the capacity to store and analyze large amounts of student data, but educators seeking to buy and install these systems are confronted with a bewildering array of products, features, and technical specifications. At the same time, software vendors do not always have sufficient understanding of how school systems work and how such software should best be deployed.

“Education technology leaders and school administrators play a critical role in acquiring the systems that make aggregating student data possible, and [they] are in most cases the primary end users of that data,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger. “This is what makes the AASA-CoSN-Gartner collaborative initiative all the more important, as each organization brings a unique perspective to the table—all with the goal of uncovering how to make data work to improve education outcomes.”

For more on using data to improve achievement, click here.

As part of the program, Gartner has instituted a nationwide survey of teachers to determine what data management practices are already in place. Gartner also has conducted a similar survey among the larger education community, including superintendents and other school leaders. Results from these surveys will be analyzed to understand attitudes and practices around student information system and learning management system solutions.

Gartner Consulting Education Practice Leader Irma Fabular emphasized the benefits of this collaboration program: “The collaborative efforts among AASA, COSN, and Gartner will help in more effective adoption of technology solutions that enable further insights on student engagement and improvement opportunities. Gartner is honored by the opportunity to contribute to student achievement and college readiness through our extensive research and thought leadership in K-12 technology solutions.”

CoSN is creating a website that will serve as the repository of the survey information. The website also will contain an analysis of the capabilities of current SIS/LMS software products. This site will be available to all school leaders looking for help in using student data to improve achievement.

“We are just at the beginning of this project,” said project director and AASA Director of Leadership Development MaryAnn Jobe. “As the program unfolds, school districts will be encouraged to become part of the information-sharing network and discuss their experiences with SIS/LMS software with other districts.”

“Closing the Gap” is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.