Leadership teams spend hours and hours each school year looking at assessment data. Data will help teachers and administrators target individual students and standards for intervention. However, assessment data is only part of the picture. There is a wide variety of data out there that needs to be analyzed in order to truly transform schools and to change student outcomes. Unfortunately, most leadership teams never move beyond assessment data.
Here are five pieces of data your leadership teams should be analyzing:
- Attendance Data
It doesn’t matter how great the teachers are, or how engaging the content is. You can spend thousands of dollars on hands-on activities, field trip, and educational technology. None of these things will make a difference if students are not at school. Students with poor attendance need an intervention. Parents meetings must be set up and attendance plans created. Home visits can be very powerful for students who are truant. I was once told that the most important job of a school principal is to put butts in seats. Field of Dreams taught us that if you build it, they will come. Principals should live by the phrase: if you get them there, they will learn.
- Discipline Data
Most school data systems have a place for discipline tracking. It is important that infractions are tracked in order to provide students with behavioral interventions. However, I have always found it interesting to see where the infractions were coming from. By analyzing this data by teacher, or by grade level, you might be able to see an area of opportunity with classroom management training. Behavioral issues at your school might not be solely a student issue.
- Instructional Minutes
By instructional minutes, I don’t mean how many minutes of the day students are at school. By instructional minutes, I do mean tracking how many minutes students are actually engaged in learning. When I first became a principal, I conducted classroom observations and kept track of how long students were engaged in active learning. The average engagement time was 11 minutes per 52-minute period. We defined active learning as anytime students were speaking with each other, working on a hands-on project, participating in a discussion, or group work. It was eye opening to see how much time students were sitting in class, passively listening to the teacher, reading silently, or completing an independent worksheet.
- Special Education
We need to look at Special Education as an intervention, not forever program. Some students, depending on their disability, might require Special Education services for their entire academic lives. However, most students should be able to move in-between programs and eventually be exited. This should be the goal of every IEP. This is especially true for students receiving OT, Speech, and PT services. Keep track of the number of students who are entering and exiting these programs.
- English Language Learner Reclassification
The goal of all English Language Development Programs is to ensure that students are proficient in English. Students can be reclassified and designated as fluent beginning in second grade. It is this data point that will enable a leadership team to gauge the impact of ELD programs. We should not deem a program successful at a school site if students are not being reclassified. Long-term ELD students should also be a data point to consider. It is troublesome to note that some schools have students on their rosters that have been receiving ELD support for over six years without being reclassified.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at email@example.com or at www.principalsdesk.org.