School Administrators and their Data Driven Purchases

School systems, nationwide, are utilizing the power of data daily. Data helps drive school improvement, from test scores to school climate, and even parental and community involvement. It is safe to say that data is used daily in K-12 schools.

Beyond the academia, and the community involvement, data is used increasingly to make purchases for schools and school districts. With recent and ever evolving advances in technology, administrators are able to evaluate the data on how the edtech products they’ve licensed or purchased are being used, or not used, in classrooms across the district. They’re also able to go online and within minutes find data about which software is the most effective, and even conduct cost comparisons.

The advantage to having this wealth of information is that administrators can make informed purchasing decisions, saving valuable time and money. However, the amount of information can be overwhelming. Companies that develop and/or sell curriculum software or similar products should make sure their websites are user friendly and that the data on the efficacy of their products is readily available. They should also build data analytics into their products so once in use by educators, they’re able to easily gauge impact on student outcomes. School leaders  =across the board want to improve student performance. Data is, in a sense, a leadership tool that enables them to do so.

The assumption is that when school leaders are knowledgeable about data use, they can more effectively review existing capacities, identify weaknesses and begin to put improvement plans in place. Principals participating directly with teachers in the formal and informal learning of the use of data, and pairing that with appropriate instructional activities, has been proven to be more than twice as powerful as any other leadership tool.

School administrators like data because it is concrete and quantifiable, while also being consistent and unbiased. Data shows growth among students over the years, and is comparable between students, teachers and locations. After all is said and done, data gives school administrators a firm basis to make decisions. That being said, software companies and education companies alike, need to be sure to publish honest, reliable informative data so school leaders can make the best choices possible. Data is ever evolving, and so are its impacts. Accurate data begins with the developer of educational products, and ultimately affects entire schools of students and teachers. For a school administrator, data is important, because their students and teachers are important.

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About the Author

Meredith Biesinger is an experienced classroom teacher and school administrator. She has written and implemented differentiated and blended curriculum into various K-12 and college classrooms for more than a decade. With a B.S. degree in English Education and a Master’s of Education in K-12 Policy and Leadership, Meredith’s primary focus has been faculty development and teacher training. Meredith currently resides in Mississippi with her family, where she is actively involved with her community’s schools. In her spare time she enjoys reading, DIY home projects and singing in the local choir.

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