Good educators always look for better ways to serve their students and communities, such as by customizing tools for use in specific situations. Teachers work hard not only to teach well, but to teach to the unique learning needs of their students.
Data is one of the most powerful tools educators, districts, and states use in this endeavor. Interestingly, teachers might not realize how frequently they’re collecting, analyzing, and using their data. In fact, they might not even be aware they’re gathering data at all.
So, what do we mean when we talk about student data, and how does it play such a vital role in successful learning? Whether educators know it or not, this valuable tool is everywhere. The key, though, is getting a hold of the pieces you actually need and turning them into accessible, effective information.
This article discusses student data and data analytics for educational organizations, so your staff can most effectively reach students and help them develop. We’ll delve into how this works at state, district, building, and student levels, and how specific programs can help you navigate all of it.
What Is Student Data and Data Analysis for Schools?
Understandably, you might hear “student data” and think immediately of state and national standardized test scores, as many people do. Now, while these scores do contribute significantly to student data in general, they are far from the only source for generating and viewing data at multiple levels.
Consider your own district or building for a moment. In addition to test scores and other academic markers, you likely have information on attendance, behavior, demographics, teachers, and nearby schools and districts.
As an individual, you might even carry much of this information in your head. But wouldn’t it be nice to keep it in a centralized place where data was displayed in an organized manner and easily accessible to everyone who supports student learning?
Today, you can take the information you have from your data analytics—from individuals’ behavior to district spending to state test scores—and turn it into actionable insights. This gives meaning to all those numbers and offers guidance on what to do with the lessons you learn from them.
The result is data-driven instruction. While we would never say student success relies wholly on rigidity of any sort, looking toward data on student achievement can certainly make some of your decisions easier.
A few things to consider as you learn more about education data analytics and available tools:
Is your platform easy to access? While not every single school employee or parent needs to access all data, it should be easy for those who do to navigate the system and find what they need.
Can your platform be customized? The amount of data you could access is endless. Constantly looking at all of it would be overwhelming and ineffective. Accordingly, distilling your dashboard down to the most essential pieces is a must.
Is the data reliable? Districts and even buildings contain great diversity. This illustrates the importance of being able to rely on data to be accurate and consistent.
Does your platform protect sensitive student information? Academic, behavioral, and demographic information are intensely personal, especially in the case of minors. Privacy and security are of the utmost importance.
All that being said, let’s look a little closer at how data analytics are used at various levels.
State and District Levels
When considering the entire state, you obviously encounter a range of districts. And you can use statewide data to identify trends and make changes within your own district. This is possibly because data analytics help you compare your district to others in terms of finances, academic performance, and community demographics. In doing so, you can start comparing the proverbial apples to themselves, and not the oranges out there.
Most school buildings contain many teachers, grade levels, and more, which means there is plenty of possibility for data analysis. You can use data analytics to see exactly how your building (or one of your district’s buildings) compares with others in the district, which spending initiatives pay off, and how individual teachers are doing comparatively to their peers.
While all students are unique, there are a variety of archetypes and pretty much every school has every type of student. And each child brings their own collection of data to the school day with them. Teachers and administrators can supplement what they know from daily, face-to-face interactions with objective data points in areas like grades, attendance, and discipline. Further, you can use the metrics to pinpoint achievement gaps and see who they relate to other data points.
RELATED: What Is Data Literacy in Education?
Student Performance and Success Aren’t Just About Academic Student Learning
Just as national and state standardized tests aren’t the be-all and end-all of academic performance, grades and test scores aren’t the full picture of how a student is truly doing.
For example, a specific student might suddenly exhibit behavioral issues and show an increase in disciplinary actions. A quick look at academic history may show a correlation between that and falling grades. When you can see that both changes happened around the same time, and the issue doesn’t appear to be widespread among students, it’s a clear sign that something else is likely going on, be it related to the home, social interactions, or mental health. This allows appropriate action or guidance to be taken to help the student.
Of course, many educators will intuitively know to look for a connection already, even without data. The benefit, though, is that you can quickly access details (dates, specific actions, etc.) without bringing extra people into the situation or spending time hunting down information. Plus, this can be used to create an objective, unbiased, and factual picture of what is happening and the action plan to address the situation which can then be communicated easily to appropriate parties.
Beyond student behaviors themselves, building and district practices influence student learning. Education data analytics can look at spending patterns, projections, returns on investments, and more to help you budget effectively, so every child has an opportunity to thrive in their educational career.
Get the Full Story From Your Student Data Analytics
At Eidex, we bring together educators, software engineers, and service professionals to provide data analytics that dive into every aspect of your data. And we focus on keeping our products accessible, collaborative, engaging, and flexible, all so you can get the most value and make the best possible decisions for your students, staff, and community.
Further, we work hard to help educators drill down into their specific challenges and goals. A couple things we do with assessment data to support that are:
Student Growth Calculators. Based on state and local data, this measurement runs alongside teacher effectiveness ratings to highlight success and what’s working. You can then more effectively incorporate best practices throughout the entire district or building.
Comprehensive Needs Assessment. When you can clearly see where the learning gaps are in relation to students’ cultural and economic disadvantages, you can then use this assessment and insight in your strategic planning.
Aside from everything Eidex offers you in education data analytics, we integrate with systems you’re already using for efficient data transfer and a seamless experience. If you’d like to learn more about what this could do for you and your district, please request a demo. (There’s no further obligation and it doesn’t cost you a dime!)
Eidex Is Dedicated to Using Student Data to Improve Teaching and Learning
If you’re already familiar with Eidex, you know we were founded by educators, for educators. And that means we understand the tough decisions you make every day. Because we do, it is our mission to provide you with the information you need in the most helpful way possible.
To achieve our mission, we offer two major products that serve students and schools. While one tool frames how your district performs in comparison to others in your state, the other digs into local details, right down to individual students and teachers.
How to Use FOCUS
Our peer-to-peer algorithm enables meaningful comparisons by matching you with relevant, similar districts in your state. Using predefined peers or your own parameters, you can compare finances, academic performance, assessments, strategies, and more.
How to Use PRISM
Honoring your need for a complete picture within each school and student, PRISM turns granular data analytics into actionable insights. The graphics are attractive and readable, and you can easily toggle data with interactive filters.
We live in a data-driven culture, and these platforms can help you improve virtually everything from how you approach formative assessments to professional development for your staff.
If you’re ready to learn more about student and school data analytics and how Eidex can help, we’d love to talk with you! Please fill in the simple contact form on our site, or give us a call at (844) K12-DATA | (844) 512-3282.