Data can be used in various ways to improve the quality of education. Learning data, in conjunction with other dimensions of quality such as context, teaching and learning environment, and learner characteristics can reveal the factors that most affect learning outcomes.
By revealing gaps in student achievement and service provision, data can be used to identify those groups that are being underserved and are underperforming. Once identified, such inequities can be addressed. Data can be used to hold the system accountable for the use of resources by showing whether increased public investment in education has resulted in measurable gains in student achievement. Although direct accountability for results rests mainly with the school, the enabling policy and practice environment is the responsibility of decision-makers at all administrative levels.
Here are some actors that use data differently to improve the quality of education:
Classroom Teachers: Classroom teachers manage the teaching and learning process. They monitor students’ learning by informal means, such as quizzes and games, and formative tests. Teachers use the data to assess a student’s performance, strengths, weaknesses, and progress. Additional information on an individual student’s background allows the teacher to diagnose possible causes of poor performance and apply remedies. The data can also be used for self-evaluation to identify where teachers could improve their pedagogy or classroom management.
Head Teachers: Head teachers assess the school’s overall performance. They examine student achievement and attainment, staff performance, and use of school resources. Head teachers set and monitor school practices, programmes, and policies. They need raw achievement data, information on teachers’ classroom practices and contribution to student outcomes, and on their own performance as rated by supervisors.
Parents and Communities: Parents and communities require information on students’ achievement, including their strengths and weaknesses, and any behavioural issues. They are concerned about public examination results, since performance determines their children’s progress to further education or employment. Parents and school staff can discuss and agree an agenda for action to support student needs. Parents can support school improvement through parent-teacher associations and school boards.
District and Provincial Level Actors: District level actors have responsibility for oversight of the management and quality of schools in the district. They collect and aggregate school data on student attendance and achievement, teacher attrition and absenteeism, and resources. They play an important role in the identification of the resource needs of schools, in monitoring standards and recommending improvement measures.
Provincial level administrators, coordinators, and supervisors make decisions based on evidence of an issue serious enough, or an opportunity good enough, to warrant commitment of time and provincial resources. Their focus is on how to plan and use interventions to provide large groups of schools with the resources and expertise to set up and evaluate their education programmes and, guided by evaluation results, to adopt procedures to improve effectiveness.
National Level Officials: National level officials make broad policy decisions on links between government directives and the plans and resources needed to comply with those directives. They need substantial system-wide information on current student outcomes and associated factors, together with data on long-term trends. These are collected and collated to provide the basis for decisions on the whole or on a major part of the education system. Data sources include EMIS, national examination results, and learning assessments.
FCS has developed a tool called “data interoperability” and this tool can help school administrators to have a seamless data access between multiple applications. By enabling seamless data exchange between different systems, data interoperability can help schools make more informed decisions and improve student outcomes. If you’re a K-12 school leader in Maryland or DC, Fortabyte Cyber Solutions can help you achieve data interoperability and unlock the full potential of your data. Send us a message for a free consultation.