Effective data use is a top administrative priority in K-12

A recent APQC survey defines key focus of schools, district administrators
By: | April 30, 2019

The use of district data to effectively monitor student growth is a top issue for education leaders in 2019, according to a survey conducted by the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC).

“Districts have been talking about being data-driven for all of these years, but when asked what it means, they have a hard time articulating it,” says Mardi C. Krenek, APQC’s vice president of education. “They have so much data, and they are overwhelmed.”

Data-driven decision-making continues to be a focus of schools and districts, but the survey reveals that educators want to make better sense of the data that they currently collect and use for evaluation and accountability purposes. Krenek says administrators seek to understand how to use and aggregate student data for monitoring growth and progression.

Though last year’s survey showed an emphasis on establishing a culture of data-driven decision-making, this year’s survey represents a shift toward providing essential training to help educators use data tactically to make effective, fact-based decisions, she says.

“They don’t know what information they need to make the most informed decisions about students or the district as a whole,” Krenek says.

However, administrators are getting smarter in regard to information and are centering their efforts on collecting vital measures, such as benchmarks on student learning that teachers can use to modify instruction during the learning process, Krenek adds.

Among other data-related priorities, the survey showed:

  • Forty-nine percent of district leaders desire a culture of fact-based decision-making.
  • Forty-six percent seek more effective use of formative assessment.

Other adminstrator priorities

Other top-of-mind matters for executive management include attracting top talent (61%), which is similar to last year’s survey. This year, however, establishing a balance between offering attractive compensation packages while avoiding additional financial hardships for the district is important to district leaders.

To that end, more than half of the respondents declared a need to secure alternative funding sources as a top fiscal priority. And as for instruction, the majority of participants identified “revising and updating curriculum design and instructional strategies” in addition to “developing thinking and inquiry skills” as priorities.

Also, 65%of participants pinpointed technology integration into curriculum and instructional strategies across the district as a key issue, with more than half intending to bolster professional training in technology use.

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