How to Use Data in Schools

3 Tips to Use Data Effectively

Data has the potential to be the key lever that propels children to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Numerous educators report feeling both overburdened with data points and undersupplied with the information they require in a world where there are endless metrics—expanding spreadsheets, charts, report cards, and data points. With the plethora of data points available, we must determine which data points are meaningful and which data points should be avoided being used in a haphazard and unscientific manner.

Using data with fidelity means approaching the data with an open mind, rather than approaching the data with preconceived notions about the students or programmes being studied.

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Reduce the amount of data that you’re processing on a consistent basis by limiting your processing time. To put it another way, if everything is important, then nothing is important at all. Determine which information is the most important. Within the classroom, we have data on discipline, achievement, attendance, social-emotional development, and parent involvement. Begin by identifying the types of information that are relevant to your daily practise. If your attendance data is stagnant and plays little to no role in changing your practises, you shouldn’t spend as much time gathering and analysing it as you would otherwise. When deciding what data to use, it is important to consider what data should be intentionally omitted. Evaluate whether additional information is required to alter your practises and discontinue the collection of data that isn’t required.

Regardless of the assessment system used, numerous data points are provided for each student. Everyone on the faculty at my school administers a formal, standardised assessment to all students at least five times per year, if not more. Approximately 20 different reports are generated from each assessment. With so much information available, it can be difficult to determine which information is the most useful. Attempt to find information that can be standardised across different classes or grades.

We have decided to look only at the current percentile rank of each student, as well as the change in their percentile rank over the course of the year. Everyone speaks the same language and evaluates information on a consistent basis because of this level of data.

Data should be gathered that will be useful not only to teachers, but also to students. Our students set goals for themselves in order to improve their ranking, and we keep track of how many students achieve those goals. Students as young as seven years old are able to understand their reports, track their progress, and set a goal for themselves.


The terms data and statistics are not interchangeable. When it comes down to it, data is simply information; statistics is an approach to analysing, interpreting, and presenting that data. It is possible for all educators to gain confidence in working with data if they separate data from statistical analysis.

Some educators may be apprehensive about the amount of time it will take to conduct data analysis. Improve the efficiency of data entry by implementing streamlined systems that can be entered efficiently or automatically. Establish a clear mission and plan for how the data will be used.

Teachers at our school determined that they wanted at least 70% of students to improve their math proficiency on a standardised assessment, which they achieved. Before beginning the math units, teachers decided to administer a preassessment to the students. With the information gathered from the pre-assessment, they determined which major skills needed to be addressed, and they devised strategies for accomplishing those goals. In addition, we used midpoint checks to evaluate our progress.

Following agreement on what data is important and why it is important, the team should collaboratively script questions to ask about the data, such as:

Where are our students currently exhibiting their talents?
What is the area where we have made the most strides forward? What strategies appeared to be the most effective?
Are there any recurring themes among students who struggled or performed well?
What teaching practises, according to the data, have shown improvement?
As a team, determine what level of growth you expect to see by the next checkpoint. Make use of those objectives to guide the discussion about how to get to the next checkpoint in the journey. We meet on a regular basis to review, modify, and adjust our strategies in light of new information. During our most recent faculty meeting, we discussed the importance of knowledge. The process of charting and tracking students’ growth and achievement helps us identify the gap between their current performance and our desired outcomes for them. Once we are aware of the problem, we can devise specific strategies to close the gap in time. Our students noticed a significant improvement after we began using data in this manner: Over the course of the first semester, 84 percent of our students saw an increase in their achievement of an average of 17 percentile points.


Data can help teams collaborate more effectively, but using data on a team necessitates a certain level of vulnerability. Someone’s data is always going to be better than someone else’s data, but instead of approaching data with a competitive lens, approach data with the perspective that it can help to foster collaborative efforts instead. Every set of results represents an opportunity to make improvements to our procedures. Consider data to be an opportunity to be embraced as a means of moving forward in the direction of growth.

It is common for us to examine data from summative assessments to find autopsy information about how the unit performed. During our analysis of data, we should look for opportunities to take immediate action based on the data that we have collected. This is a question I ask myself frequently: What information do I require from students today in order to alter my plans for tomorrow? Every lesson provides information about students’ learning as well as the opportunity to make adjustments as they progress.