- Arranging school-based data into a meaningful, understandable format can help district leaders use that information to tell their schools' stories, secure stakeholder buy-in and implement effective strategies, Victoria Curry, data coordinator and chief information officer for Dutchess County Board of Cooperative Educational Services in New York, writes for Edutopia.
- Data is just statistics until it is formed into something to which teachers, parents and other stakeholders can relate. Curry recommends gearing how that information is presented toward the target audience, noting faculty and staff will need a story presented from a different angle than school board members and parents.
- Storytelling goals should also include details that establish the message that needs to be conveyed and use the data to explain it. Curry, for example, uses a visually illustrated narrative arc complete with a beginning, middle and end.
A University of New England blog recommends incorporating four types of information into school data analyses:
- Student demographics.
- Student learning data, such as standardized test results.
- Attitudes and beliefs of people in the school.
- School processes.
Those data points can illustrate the “story” of the school and highlight needed changes.
Delivering data in a clear, meaningful way relates to the importance of communication and leadership, especially when developing teacher buy-in for new initiatives. When new initiatives are presented in understandable ways, stakeholders are more likely to accept them. For example, when Principal Quentin Lee of Childersburg High School in Alabama needed to gain buy-in on mask-wearing, social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures, he created a music video parodying MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This."
Positive school cultures are also building blocks upon which new initiatives can be developed, and they can help retain teachers. At Lew Wallace School 107 in Indianapolis, Principal Jeremy Baugh implemented a culture improvement initiative which he said improved first-year teacher retention rates to 97%. The Opportunity Culture approach used in that instance pays excellent teachers more money to serve as multi-classroom mentors.