Putting data first
Education data, used well, can help school board members and everyone else who cares about public schools make good decisions — ones based not on the loudest voices or the latest theories, but on the facts about what students need and how they are currently doing.
That was the focus of “Data Driven Decision-Making,” a Saturday session presented by two Illinois Association of School Board leaders that was created with the idea that data matters.
Presenters Sandra Kwasa, director of board development, and Angie Peifer, associate executive director of board development, provided a condensed version of their Data First workshop series for board members and district administrators.
The constructive use of data is a skill that must be learned. During this session, board members learned how to ask board-level questions regarding data. Among them:
• How do we know that we are making progress toward our student learning and district goals? How can we communicate the progress simply and effectively to our public?
• How can we use data to ensure continuous improvement in our district?
• How can and should data inform our decision making?
• And how can data help us make better decisions and difficult choices in times of limited resources?
The Data First workshops are the product of an 18-month pilot project led by a partnership of the NSBA’s Center for Public Education and state school board associations in California, Illinois, and Michigan. The development team was comprised of various experts in school board development, education data, and research. Six school districts across the partner states participated in the module field tests. These were observed by an independent evaluator whose feedback informed the final product that participants experienced.