The question I get asked most frequently is, “What do I do with data?” The answer to that question depends on where you are and what you already do, but the starting point is much easier on the surface than most educators think.  

Ask the Question: What would we want to know?

All year, teams of educators make dozens of decisions and directional moves.  Often those decisions are made based on opinion and past experience.  Instead, slow down the conversation and ask, “What would we want to know”

Then ask the question: What data could show this?

Just asking this simple question will get teams using data.  Notice it doesn’t imply you need to collect new data, often the data you need is right there.

An Example:

A math team makes placement decisions every year for students, and it’s a bear! They are wondering if there’s a more informed way.  They ask, “What would we want to know?” and they determine they want to know what criteria is the best predictor of success.

They then ask, “What data could show this?” and determine that looking at current students grades, and doing a simple correlation test (using an online calculator like Wolfram Alpha) with past grades, standardized tests, placement tests, and previous teacher recommendation.

Turns out, the placement tests had low correlation, comparatively, and the teachers decide to throw it out.  Saving them the creating, grading, and administering of the test, and in the end ridding themselves of a confounding variable.

 

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Disclaimer: The data and graphics used on this site are simulated re-creations intended to protect the privacy of the original data sources.