3 reasons superintendents want better access to data to drive their decisions

"Superintendents want more information to make decisions for their districts and to support students as they navigate their own pathways," according to a recent survey.

The role of a superintendent has only gotten more difficult with time. As turnover in the field continues due to stress, growing complexities and negativity toward public education, district leaders ask for one tool that would help them to make informed decisions specific to their districts’ needs.

Nearly half of superintendents (46%) across the country said they’re likely to quit their jobs within two to three years, according to a recent survey from education company EAB. Pandemic-related stressors, such as student behavior and staffing, are just a few of the contributing factors driving district leaders away from the profession. Meanwhile, those who remain in the field are calling for increased access to data to make their jobs easier and more impactful.

In a September poll from the Data Quality Campaign and The School Superintendents Association, superintendents said shared how and why they use data from the state specific to their district to support their students and schools. Such data includes information regarding students’ learning and academic progress, performance trends, disaggregated data (i.e., data broken out by different student populations), insight on hiring/staffing, etc.

Yet, there’s room for improvement in this area in order to help superintendents manage their districts effectively. According to the results, leaders expressed three ways better access to data would help improve the functionality of their jobs:

  • 98% agree better access to data would help them to be more confident in their ability to make informed decisions for their districts.
  • 99% feel state data could improve. They believe tools should be added to help superintendents act on the information given, as well as more training and support for analyzing, reporting and communicating such data.
  • 93% of superintendents began collecting new data during the pandemic. Since then 94% of those who started collecting data agree that it’s providing them with useful information and insights.

“Superintendents want more information to make decisions for their districts and to support students as they navigate their own pathways,” the survey reads. “State leaders must prioritize giving district superintendents access to the data they need to make decisions—including linked data on postsecondary pathways—and supporting them to use it with training as well as actionable tools and reports.”

Lastly, leaders simply want more data in order to meet the needs of particular student groups and staff members. According to the poll, 25% of superintendents said they’re still looking for greater access to data to make informed decisions about:

  • Student group interventions and supports: 62%
  • Course offerings and curriculum about postsecondary and workforce opportunities: 61%
  • Conversations with principals and other building leaders: 58%
  • Staffing or hiring: 49%
  • Resource allocation: 47%

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Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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