FETC 2019: K–12 Schools Evolve Their Data Focus to Improve Student Outcomes

Schools are changing their data collection and analytics practices to create a more holistic student assessment.

K–12 schools are evolving their use of data analytics tools as pedagogies such as personalized learning focus on more immediate feedback and the “whole student.” 

“We need the data that will help us make better, faster decisions,” said Cathy Cavanaugh, principal program manager for learning research and analytics at Microsoft, in a Jan. 29 workshop at the Future of Education Technology Conference. “We want to do what we can and make the right decisions to affect trends moving in the right direction.”

This means schools will need to reassess the data they choose to collect to find the best measurements to help their students, said Cavanaugh. Read more.

Measure Meaningful Metrics Beyond Grades

While test scores are important in measuring student performance, looking at other factors can be just as helpful.

Before restructuring its data analytics program, the St. Lucie Public School District in Florida was ranked 45th out of 67 districts, said Jon Prince, deputy superintendent for St. Lucie. 

When tasked to improve graduation rates, Prince approached then-COO Terence O’Leary with a number of Excel spreadsheets, asking for a way to measure meaningful metrics in real time.

Working with O’Leary, the district constructed a data analytics initiative using Microsoft Business Intelligence to focus on “instructional time” as well as grades. This included metrics on attendance and out-of-school suspensions.

After implementing the program, St. Lucie’s graduation rates increased from 76 percent to 92 percent, and out-of-school suspension days decreased by 40 percentRead more.