Data that Drives Opportunities and Outcomes

Topics: Education Data, Innovation, Principal Leadership

It is often said that you can tell the health of a school just by stepping inside the building. Markers of a positive culture—such as a sense of belonging affirming each student’s identity, strong relationships where students feel valued, and high expectations for student achievement—reverberate throughout the school.

Establishing a thriving culture is one of a principal’s most important jobs. It requires in-depth knowledge of the students and staff who walk the school’s hallways and fill the classrooms. Building personal relationships goes a long way in setting the tone in a school. But to take it to the next level, school leaders must employ data-based decision-making to develop a deeper understanding of the needs of their students and how they are progressing toward their learning goals. Through data, there is an opportunity to boost outcomes for students inside and outside of the school building.

In this issue of Principal magazine, we delve into what school leaders need to be better stewards of data and its use, covering:

  • Building a data-driven culture—where principals can recruit followers to encourage buy-in and leverage comprehensive assessment systems.
  • Democratizing access to data—so that teachers can better support their students, and principals can make better decisions about resource allocation and professional development.
  • Developing skills for data privacy—closing gaps in knowledge and awareness to use data responsibly and ethically.
  • Leveraging data to uncover opportunity gaps—to help identify where systems create and sustain inequity and create opportunities for growth.
  • Communicating data with parents—to help them understand the goals for their children and to encourage involvement.

At the start of a new year, it’s a common tradition to set goals and resolutions for the months to come. As you look back over your accomplishments as a school community over the past 100 days and set your sights on closing out the school year strong, I hope that this issue inspires you to turn your data-based insights into opportunities for boosting student outcomes.

Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D.