Tips on Sharing Data Effectively

Communicator
June 2013, Volume 36, Issue 10

Traditionally, educators have shared data with families via report cards and parent-teacher conferences. But today, with schools under greater pressure to be data-driven, it’s up to principals to make sure their schools are using and sharing data in the most effective ways. New tips from the Harvard Family Research Project can help that process.

“Tips for Administrators, Teachers, and Families: How to Share Data Effectively” contains strategies for principals, teachers, and families about sharing student data in meaningful ways to strengthen home-school partnerships. 

Today, parents are asking questions about the data they see in progress reports and online parent portals, according to the report. They’re also seeking guidance about how to act on the information.

A principal’s first step to achieving effective data use is to cultivate a culture of data-sharing among teachers. The tips suggest that principals:

  • Make use of professional development trainings to help teachers understand effective data-sharing practices;
  • Help school support staff understand their role in data-sharing;
  • Encourage teachers to use a variety of means to share data, including phone calls, text messages; and online data systems; and
  • Stress the importance of parent-teacher conferences as a communication tool to support student learning.

Second, school leaders should help families work with data. Provide an orientation for families about student data, covering how to understand test scores and how to log onto online parent portals. Further:

  • Make sure families know how new initiatives such as  the Common Core will impact their child’s learning;
  • Ensure equity in families’ access to data by offering information in native languages, and designating computers in your school for families to use to access data portals; and
  • Find out what kind of feedback parents would like to see in progress notes or schoolwide data reports, and ask if the information is presented in a way that is easy to understand.

The tips also highlight examples of successful data-sharing practices. One Boston-area school, for instance, created a bulletin board in the main lobby to show parents the impact of students’ attendance on reading achievement. The school send parents letters that indicated the number of days their child had been absent over the past three years and the total number of hours of instruction missed. The information was a wake-up call to parents; attendance rates have increased since the campaign.

Download the tips here.


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