New Option for Converting Data into Relevant and Useful Information

  • Posted on: 28 October 2013
  • By: Tina McCoy

You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data. (Daniel Keys Moran)

data mountainTo say that we live in the ‘information age’ has become a huge understatement.  In truth, we live in the age of data; data overload, that is. Data is all around us, stored on our computers, and in all sorts of data management systems.  The problem is school leaders are still incredibly busy with the daily demands of their positions.  The work of running schools properly has not decreased with technology tools. Rather, increased requirements in education have made school leadership more challenging and time consuming than ever.  Still, school administrators know that the use of data to inform instruction and guide program improvement is key to success.  A dilemma has emerged: schools need to use data effectively and efficiently in order to improve, but time to examine data to look for useful trends and patterns is incredibly lacking.

This dilemma comes at a time when resources are exceptionally limited, and positions are being eliminated rather than created. How are educational leaders to reconcile the need to use data to improve services to students with the scarcity of resources needed to make that happen? One creative way to address this issue is to outsource to an experienced professional who specializes in data analysis but is not pulled away from the task to ‘put out fires’ or take calls from concerned parents. Districts get top-notch data analysis and customized reports delivered and explained to them – for immediate use to improve the quality of instruction for all students.  This eliminates the need to hire an employee with benefits to wade through your student data. Student data are meaningfully translated into formats that school administrators can easily use to lead systemic improvement or inform stakeholders of the progress that is being made in their schools. This means more time interacting with teachers, parents or board members, and less time sitting in front of a computer or trying to teach staff members how to run timely and useful reports.

Recognizing that the effective use of data is central to continuous improvement and school reform efforts, all major school accreditation agencies, such as NEASC, now have instituted "data analysis" requirements.  Schools must work to convert their data into information that can inform practice and guide strategic efforts to increase the quality of services provided to all students.

Don’t spend all of your time climbing a mountain of data.  Consider outsourcing your data analysis for an efficient way to convert that mountain of data into useful and relevant information that can inform decisions and prompt effective, coherent action in your organization.

 If you’d like to find out more about outsourcing data analysis for the benefit of your school system, contact Scott Genzer at genzerconsulting.com.

Tina H. McCoy