How we turned around our data culture and student learning


Fairfield County Schools is a small, rural, high-poverty school district in South Carolina. The district is composed of five elementary schools and four secondary schools, serving more than 2,600 students.

Biggest challenge:

We wanted to refine our data culture and dig deeper into our data to determine external factors that could be impacting student achievement and growth. In order to do so, we had to find ways to help school leaders understand their students’ progress and needs more holistically.


In 2017, we adopted Schoolzilla’s Mosaic District Progress Monitoring platform to enable principals to easily examine their school’s trends, with a focus on analyzing equity across different populations, such as gender, grade level, and race/ethnicity. After principals became familiar with the data tracked and analyzed in Mosaic, each principal developed two SMART goals and used the new tool to measure their progress against those goals over the course of the school year.…Read More

Using data to solve boundary challenges

Redrawing boundaries reallocates a district’s resources at a fundamental level, and with that reallocation comes a great deal of concern, anxiety, and turmoil as members of the district’s community worry whether their needs will be addressed properly. Compounding that tense situation, districts are often working with incomplete data and making what amounts to educated guesses about where resources will do the most good.

Muskogee Public (OK) Schools serves about 5,600 students across 13 school sites. Between a declining birth rate in the area that we serve and more students and their families choosing nontraditional options such as online schools, our enrollment recently shrank to the point that we needed to close a building and reallocate some of our resources.

We settled on turning one elementary school into a 6th grade center and then closing a middle school and moving its students to a larger elementary school. We’re closing only one building, but that still requires rezoning the remaining five elementary schools and the 2,700 elementary-aged students they serve.…Read More

Early intervention: How a tech-based approach is keeping our students in school

Imagine: Jimmy starts high school and has difficulty with math. Although he does well in other subjects, he has low motivation in class and forgets when homework is due. Despite the teacher’s best efforts to encourage him and give him extra help, the student continues to struggle. As the semester continues, the teacher runs out of ideas for helping Jimmy and he falls farther and farther behind his classmates.

With the right plan and technology in place, this scenario might never have played out.
Simply put, early intervention is key to identifying struggling students. But, early intervention can only be successful if schools have a solid structure in place to access relevant data and act on it quickly.

Take my school, Battle Creek Central High School in Michigan, for example. We struggled with inconsistent intervention processes that didn’t produce dependable results and left some students feeling behind. Before long, we discovered the value of a set intervention plan paired with technology. Ever since, our teachers and staff are more connected to students and finding personalized solutions that get them back on the right path earlier. If your school is attempting to improve its student intervention strategies, I encourage you to consider the following lessons we learned.…Read More

Here’s how we made data usable for our teachers

In today’s digital classroom, teachers have access to more data than ever. With a few clicks, we can view detailed reports on student test scores, formative assessments, progress reports from self-paced software, attendance, and so much more. At times, the amount of data can feel overwhelming, especially when each data point only exists as an isolated channel, unrelated to the next.

I am not saying that multiple data measures are a bad thing; in fact, they can help us to differentiate instruction, personalize learning, and really meet each of our students where they are academically. As administrators, it is critical that we help our teachers collect the most meaningful data points by giving them the tools they need to quickly interpret figures to make informed decisions in their classroom.

In my district, Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) in California, our data showed that our students were really struggling in math. Our state test scores were low and, with the changing rigor of Common Core, parents were coming to me concerned that they were not able to help their child with assignments. I knew we had to do something outside the box—and quickly—to catch our struggling students and prevent them from falling further behind.…Read More