When using data, remember monkey sex

Freakonomics co-author explains why using data to predict future trends is trickier than you may think.

When you talk about big data these days, as well as its potential to help predict future trends and, therefore, courses of action, stories about turkey breasts, hand washing and monkey sex don’t also make the rounds; but according to the Freakonomics author, they should.

“What people say they feel or say they do versus what they actually do are often two completely different things,” explained Stephen J. Dubner, journalist, author and this year’s Infocomm 2016 Las Vegas keynoter. “And this is what makes the use of data tricky whenever industry looks to it for answers in behavior.”

infocommvegas…Read More

What teachers want in a data dashboard

The data dashboard has become more sophisticated, but it is still only one lens through which educators should view their students

When Amber Teamann was a teacher in Garland, Texas, seven years ago, her use of data to help guide her instruction was fairly limited.

“Based on the programs I was using, I could evaluate how to differentiate instruction for my students,” she said. But tracking how well her students were meeting specific grade-level standards at any moment during the year wasn’t an option for her at that time, nor was looking at larger trends until after the school year had ended.

Data “was something you would use as an autopsy when everything was over,” she said.…Read More

Four essential priorities for making sense of student data

A new report outlines how careful data use and policies can support elevated teaching and learning

Four data policy priorities can help state policymakers take advantage of data provisions in the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) in order to move from data compliance to leveraging data to improve student learning, according to a new report from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).

The report, Time to Act: Making Data Work for Students, says policymakers at every level should follow the four data policy prescriptions in order: measuring what matters, making data use possible, being transparent and earning trust, and guaranteeing access and protecting privacy.

Specifically, the report provides recommendations to help policymakers transform data from a tool for compliance to one that supports continuous improvement and achieves results, including state and district-based examples of how leaders have effectively used education data.…Read More

Making classroom observations more efficient — and effective

A custom web-based system is making for more thoughtful classroom observation

Instructional leaders need to know what is happening when the bell rings and the door closes — in every classroom, in every building, every day. And the best way to do that is through careful but effective classroom observation. The challenge, then, is how to design a customizable, user-friendly system to observe classroom teaching that doesn’t seem like a top-down affair.

Just over five years ago, my organization, the Southwest Plains Regional Service Center in Kansas, set out to do just that, and to date, 13,572 teachers have been observed in 726 schools. This includes over 150,000 observations and over 6.5 million data points.

First, here’s what we know: Quality of teaching is the number one factor affecting student learning; collaborative dialogue is the number one factor affecting quality of teaching; and collaborative dialogue requires data.…Read More

How tech can make selecting the right college easier for students

2 companies use data to make it easier for selecting the right college to fit student needs

finding-collegeUnlike the discerning “sorting hat” featured in Harry Potter—which takes its time to analyze every budding wizard’s brain to figure out which of the four houses of Hogwarts is right for him or her—the college selection is a pretty arbitrary process.

Most of the time it’s based on geographic location, availability of specific majors, a family attachment, or even a favorite collegiate sports team. Unless students are proactive about seeking help, most receive very little support in this area; middle schoolers get even less attention.

Yet when 17- or 18-year-old high school graduates get to college, they’re supposed to know not only what they want to do for the next four to five years—but also for the rest of their lives.…Read More

SIS itslearning and Clever partner for data integration

Partnership will help ensure secure data integration between LMS, SIS

data-integrationitslearning has announced a new relationship with Clever to provide seamless and secure data integration between the learning management system and a school’s or district’s student information system (SIS).

Specifically, schools and districts using itslearning can now use the Clever platform to ensure that student enrollment records, staff accounts, and class rosters are quickly integrated and automatically updated. Furthermore, with Clever Instant Login, students can now more easily access the itslearning platform with one click from a secure, individual portal without having to manage multiple usernames and passwords.

Designed specifically for the K-12 sector, itslearning is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that enables teachers to more effectively engage today’s “digitally wired” students anytime, anywhere and on any device.…Read More

How do parents really feel about data?

New survey reveals parents’ thoughts on student data use, privacy, protection

data-useNew data from the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) reveals a majority of parents participating in a survey said they support using student data to inform educational practices, but they remain concerned about student data privacy and security issues in schools.

The survey asked parents to identify their goals and describe their concerns about technology use and student data.

“Parent’s are one of the most important stakeholders in the discussions around using student data to improve classroom education,” said Future Privacy Forum Executive Director Jules Polonetsky. “Yet, not near enough work has been done to bring parents into the conversation. This survey is an important first step.”…Read More

District adds data use to teacher training

Long Beach Unified School District aims to bridge the data gap between teaching and learning

data-PDWhile teacher professional development continues to be scrutinized by research and the media, Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) is hoping to get it right with data.

A new video by the Data Quality Campaign shows how using data empowers LBUSD teachers to match their learning needs to the learning needs of students.

“Data informs every decision that we make,” said Christopher Steinhauser, superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District. “Data is not seen as a bad thing here, it’s actually seen as your friend.”…Read More

The 2 dashboards that will get teachers to use data

How do you get teachers to use data? One district zeroed in on what’s important

data-teachersEvery day, educators amass a tremendous amount of academic data. Many of that data ultimately gets entered into online systems and run through analysis software and teacher dashboards. But that data is only valuable if it can be easily accessed and analyzed, and acted upon in a timely manner. And only if the teacher finds it worthwhile enough to complete that process.

In the past, my district used a scanning system to scan paper test forms and quickly make the data available to teachers for their review. The problem was that seven years after we launched the system, I was still teaching our teachers how to use it. Because it wasn’t user friendly, it wasn’t used very extensively, which meant that data was going to waste.

In 2013, we set out to find a system that would be easier to use, more visual, and better at organizing data in a concise way, and that summer we began using a new assessment and data system (we picked Performance Matters). To introduce its capabilities, we held district-wide trainings for our teachers. A few months later, however, we realized we now faced a challenge at the opposite end of the spectrum. With our previous system, our teachers couldn’t get enough data. With our new system, they had access to more data than they knew what to do with.…Read More

One-third of U.S. schools use this data technology

Clever now working with thousands of schools and vendors for data privacy in education

student-dataOne-­third of K­12 schools in the United States have adopted Clever to secure student data, the company announced. At a time when schools are rapidly embracing technology, Clever is now empowering 44,000 of them to do so while maintaining student data privacy and security.

Founded by educators, Clever is a secure software platform that makes it easy for schools and students
to use learning software in the classroom. Schools use Clever to securely integrate their learning software
with their Student Information Systems (SIS), saving teachers from having to create individual accounts
for each of their students.

And for students burdened with too many usernames and passwords to remember, Clever offers a universal login experience where they can log in to any application with a single click.…Read More