Tips for Effective Data Management. (Data-Driven Decision Making)

Article excerpt

In these excerpts from TechLearning.com's weekly Leaders' Edge column, we answer questions about data-driven decision making.

Q What is the basis for data-driven decision making?

A Data-driven decision making, or D3M, is a key phrase in virtually all reform and accountability movements in education. In 1999 the U.S. Department of Education released a list of seven critical issues for systemic review and analysis of what works best in educational technology use. These issues, which are still used in monitoring and evaluating instructional technology programs, include instructional approaches, data sources for monitoring and evaluation, and the role of the teacher.

A listing and brief explanation of each critical issue may be found in "Critical Issues in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Technology" (www.ed.gov/Technology/TechConf/1999/confsum.html).

Q In my district, each school is responsible for maintaining its own records. Would it be better to switch to a districtwide student information system?

A With the implementation of No Child Left Behind, principals and districts will be asked to gather and report more data than ever before.

One of the major barriers to collecting district-wide data is the fact that many school sites are using files and templates they've created themselves. While the system works well for the individual school, it's often impossible to merge the data with other files for district reporting.

Student information systems make it feasible for data to be entered at each site and then aggregated to produce the kinds of reports that are required for NCLB. Individual schools can still generate reports, but they may have to work with the district information technologist to design a report format that works within the SIS. Chances are that the new report formats will be more flexible and will provide more opportunities for exploring data than the individual databases were able to support.

Q How can I streamline the process of collecting data for a report or plan?

A Begin a data library on-site or in your district office. The next time you need a school plan, a copy of a report sent to the state or federal office of education, or a grant or award proposal written previously, you'll know exactly where to find it and save yourself time.

What might you keep in the file? Here are just a few suggestions:

* Office referral, suspension, and expulsion counts

* Crime reports

* Current equipment inventories

* Software licenses. …