The Most Important Time to Use Data, Is Now.

Remember when everyone in the US would ask, how are you using data in your school? I hated that question, because I knew the person asking had no idea how to answer it usually, and that’s because everyone’s answer at their site, is unique. Each school goes down their own path.

choose your own path…

Those “suits” we used to call them, thought they had a universal response, which there does exist — but those guys never knew it. I’m sorry, but if you gather formative data, and use it in any way to guide the learning process, you have answered that question correctly.

Those guys would always just look, nod, keep nodding, take out their tablet, and scribble something.

What was most important about that answer, was that it was happening.

This is informed instruction. This is varied instruction. This is differentiated instruction, with heterogeneous groups, student driven, and project based culminating presentations displayed in many ways.

That is true education. This is something we all know. It leads to student success. Now, in today’s climate, in the US — if you are not looking at your data, what are you looking at?

How successful were your students in the last year, based on attendance, based on participation, and based on teacher remarks?

I’ve heard of schools with extremely high absence rates for the entire time out on virtual instruction. Some students literally could not attend school due to covid and the multiple impacts that had on our health and economy.

Participation was valued on a whole entirely new level this past year, and it was great. I believe continuing to do so will positively impact the learning process as this focuses on the process, not the product.

If a kid is not participating — find out why and make a change. So many reasons can be the case for them to be on that path.

Something will accompany these students for this time and the chances that allowed the status quo with other years to even exist, in the form of their summative student rating.

What ever that is, still needs to be identified. You, as a school leader, or teacher, or even a learner, need to find out what should be focused on immediately with the learning process, and concentrate efforts on a remedy for that cause.

What grade levels are impacted most? What demographics? What learning group? What race? What gender? What neighborhoods? Ask these questions to yourself, and look at results to find out answers. Those answers, lead you to focus points. ORK your plan that guides you down a path out.

Start with a survey. Ask your students, your staff, and your families about needs, concerns, and wants that they have. This gives you another perspective. This is the pulse of the environment. You need to always have your finger on it.

Look at your semester percentages. Look at grade level overalls. Look at demographic overalls, by grade level. Look at special education, english language learners, foster youth, and look at gender, and identify trends. Where are your areas to focus on based on those results?

None of us had state testing, so what did your teachers say? What are their reports? What red flags are raised based on those results which are annually the most accurate of the student?

Find out these answers, and share them with your staff. Then, ask for groups to focus on solutions to address them. Set smart goals, time lines, and follow ups using the OKR method.

And begin on the path to recovery and new successes. It doesn’t have to be super bad to attempt to revise, it simply doesn’t have to be perfect to justify beginning.

My name is Joe Clausi, and I have over 20 years of experience in secondary education, on both coasts of the United States, and with all kind of schools.

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