Author: Doug LaFleur, President @ Eidex
Data is Extremely Powerful
A side benefit of staying home during the pandemic is that my wife and I, being empty nesters, seem to be eating at a more regular time each evening. Our daily routine has evolved into this: Sitting down around our kitchen island at 6:00 or so, one of us grabs the remote, the other serves the food, and we fire up a quick episode of Cheers on Netflix. Then, when finishing up our meal, we either flip to the evening news and discuss the latest that happened that day, or share what we had heard throughout the day regarding the strange times we live in. This ultimately leads to our sharing what we heard about “the latest data” that tells the story of our times. Is the infection rate and death rate accelerating at a dangerous level, or has it started to flatten? What do the medical data experts say will happen if we open up our communities to fast? What do the economists say will happen to our GDP if we open up the economy too slow? The various experts and pundits all have their own thoughts and strategies on how to fight this invisible enemy, and sometimes even fighting about the accuracy of the data. However, one area where there does seem to be the most agreement is that the use of data is extremely powerful – and will continue to be - to thwart the virus. In fact, besides finding a vaccine, many physicians and scientists proclaim that effectively responding to data may be our best weapon to beating COVID-19. Yes, good, accurate data is necessary to tell the story and to evaluate our progress.
But what about using data to improve other areas of our lives? Shouldn’t the use of data be a cornerstone to all areas where we want to see improvement in? Being in the K-12 industry, Eidex has always been a huge proponent of using data in our efforts to improve student performance. After all, we were founded on the premise that using data is an absolutely necessary (though not totally sufficient) part of any strong performance improvement effort. While staying agnostic in what approaches and strategies might work best to move the needle on performance, we have spent the last eight years mining and collecting data, visualizing that data, and helping our clients actually use data in their school improvement efforts. At the end of the day, data really does count (no pun intended), as it is our best way to identify gaps in performance and measure improvement. Combining the COVID-19 crisis with the current issues we now have in K-12 education brings data again to the forefront, especially in two critical areas: solving the equity issues we will soon be facing when kids get back to school and also managing the financial health of school districts that are certain to be operating at a loss of revenue over the next few years. Yes - these two areas require data – accurate, actionable, data - and happen to be two areas where Eidex, and our use of data analytics, can be most useful for school leaders.
1. Analyze Academic Equity Issues
The question isn’t whether there will be students who have moved forward, stepped backward, or stood still, but rather how much movement there will be and how quickly we can identify where each student stands and then close any gap that exists. Eidex PRISM can instantly identify these gaps in performance, all the way down to each individual student, and provides a tool to do it across various assessment tests. You can quickly triangulate your data from many of your favorite tests, and then do a deep dive into identifying your gaps and areas of biggest need – allowing you to prioritize your work and make the biggest impact on performance. And when the kids return, you will even be able to combine that data with attendance, behavior and growth data – all in one place – to give you the ability to provide a laser focus on kids or groups of kids - where it is needed most. And because this can be done in seconds (not hours or days), this allows you to spend your time focusing on designing and delivering interventions that effect change, as opposed to gathering and organizing the data (that’s our part).
2. Discover Financial Gaps
With Eidex Focus, a powerful application in our tool allows clients to identify areas of higher and lower spending in each function and object level area as compared to a similar peer group, allowing them to first identify these areas, and then work with their teams to prioritize their areas of focus. Once identified, clients can start the discussion with the appropriate stakeholders using data and graphics, so conversations can focus on what is causing the gap and, if possible, how to best close the gap. This data analysis function built into Eidex Focus is powerful and unique and has been time tested with hundreds of our clients.
Now more than ever districts need data – and they need it to solve two major problems: Managing the equity situation in their schools caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and framing their financial data in a way that fosters discussions around how to close the gaps and lower costs. Our software was made to point you in the right direction of where to take a deeper look. Let us help you find and highlight the gaps – so you can spend your valuable time fixing them.
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