Having easily accessible data helps administrators make informed decisions.

Difficult. Clunky. Frustrating. Those were three words often used by administrators, teachers, and staff to describe our previous data warehouse. Because the system was complicated, people didn’t use it. Instead, student achievement data was stored in disparate locations all over the school district.

Our goal in Wayzata Public Schools was to get our data into one place. But more important, we wanted to make it easy to view, understand, and act upon that data. We also wanted to make it easy for our teachers to review and compare different types of student data–from national and state assessments to district benchmarks and formative assessments–to see how they tie together, and then use this data to inform their instruction.

Toward that end, our district purchased the web-based Performance Matters assessment and data management system in 2010. We now use the system in every school, across all grade levels, to correlate and analyze performance data from multiple sources. On one screen, we can easily compare “lagging indicators,” which include historical data such as state test scores, to “leading indicators,” which include current data such as local assessments. With this information, we can evaluate student progress toward our state standards and analyze student growth over time.

Today, we have a whole continuum of information in the Performance Matters system, from our locally developed common assessments, to the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress assessments, to our state assessments, to national assessments like the ACT and SAT.

Having the ability to look at several data points in one place makes it easier to make decisions about interventions and extensions to help each student excel. Using the system’s interactive dashboards, we can slice and dice data to analyze student performance, and we can instantly disaggregate data for any student or group. We can also drill down and access more detailed information related to the data on the screen. The system’s color-coded reports make it easy to understand the data and to determine where we need to take action to improve student learning.