8 School Districts Rocking Data Visibility
What is data, and why is it important?
Data refers to the facts that represent district operations and achievements. This information can include demographics, daily logistics including meal counts and attendance, and of course, grades and test scores.
Data quantifies the important work of teaching and learning and lets district leaders, teachers, students, parents, and the community know how schools are performing.
Sharing data while preserving student privacy is part of building a healthy school culture and a key part of the Future Ready framework. Most districts have plans. Many have information request forms available. But how are they being proactive about data visibility? Here’s how a handful of districts are starting the conversation.
Although most people are familiar with standardized tests, it’s still a good idea to explain how students are evaluated. Some members of the community are probably just learning to analyze data.
Riverton USD devoted a page of their district site to explaining what each test measures and what the scores are used for, then provided links to the reports. Visitors to the website can find this performance data openly shared under the district office section of the site.Their proactive approach sets the stage for parents and community members who are curious to learn more about how students are doing.
Aggregated data provides information while maintaining confidentiality. No one is singled out, and no one can identify students from context cues.
Holly Area Schools put aggregated data to great use on their school website. Key figures are featured prominently on the home page. Bonus: A link to the Michigan School Data dashboard in the website header provides a deeper dive into performance data.
Data doesn’t have to be boring, nor should you need a PhD to make sense of it. For a unique way to share information, consider creating an infographic.
Mineral Point USD produced a fun infographic sharing how students performed on ACT exams.
The aggregated data it shares doesn’t interfere with student privacy but gives a thorough report of how the district compared to statewide performance for composite, science, reading, mathematics, and English tests.
What if you’re not an Excel wiz or you think a pie chart should be ranked by tastiness? You may want to explore a data visualization service. Effective visualization aims to make data analysis easier.
Forney Independent School District uses OnView. This service reports publicly shared data only, so there’s no chance of breaching confidentiality. Users can browse different reporting options and see the visual interpretation of demographics, results of different tests, and standards mastery information.
If your state distributes data on an interactive state reporting dashboard the way the Illinois State Board of Education does, promoting that service is a win-win: Your community enjoys easy access to public information without requiring more than a web link on your site.
Troy CCSD 30C provides multiple links to the Illinois Interactive Report Card — one for each of their schools and a district-wide report. Even if they aren’t yet familiar with the Report Card, parents and community members can easily find the information on the district’s site.
A fair number of districts provide demographic and other community information on their websites. Some share short community histories or even real estate links, depending on their locations and goals.
Judge Memorial’s profile tells their story at-a-glance with an infographic, then goes into deeper detail. You’ll find information about demographics, academics, ministry, arts, and athletic activity, to name a few.
One of the feel-good benefits of gathering good data is the opportunity to recognize and celebrate achievement. When students grow, their community should be able to celebrate right along with them.
Colonial School District devotes a page of its district website to Points of Pride, which include everything from brag-worthy graduation statistics to STEAM awards to property tax rates. Talk about a sound investment!
Does your district have a different approach to teaching and learning? Perhaps you lead a charter school or have implemented an alternative grading system. The way you share your data can shine a spotlight on the similarities and differences by comparing to state or national averages.
Spectrum High School plays up the positives of small-school education, particularly the jumpstart its students got on college credits.
Data Visibility is Worth the Investment
Sharing data is important to a school culture of transparency and good communication. As you create a plan for data visibility, consider the crucial component of helping people in your community develop data literacy. Getting everyone on the same page helps them focus on your vision for your future-ready school!
Ready to share data, but not sure where to start? Check out AK12’s EdTech Playbook: The District Website.
Originally published at Advancing K12.