Data-Driven Problem-Solving for School Leaders

Data-Driven Decision-Making (DDDM) is an important factor for school administrators. Principals who are data-savvy promote practices that produce a culture of advantageous data use. However, if school leadership doesn’t understand the value of using data to identify student needs and recognize areas where improvement is needed, how can the school and the students improve?

Since a school principal is the leader of the school administration and is in a position to set the tone for data-driven decision-making, they should be proficient in using different technologies. Measuring student progress and setting goals begins with data collection and analysis. It’s common for medical doctors, sports coaches and business professionals to track performance by analyzing collected information, but educators and administrators often do not receive formal training in data analytics.

An Education Specialist in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Principal Preparation online program from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) can add data-driven decision-making to a potential school principal’s skill set. By studying the sociocultural foundations of education and the theories of data-driven school improvement and accountability, graduates of this online program will be qualified to pursue a career as dean of students, school principal, department head, program coordinator and more.

Why Is it Important for School Leaders to Be Data Savvy?

As schools spend more time testing, it’s important to take the test results and use them to calculate student progress, guide curriculum development, encourage accountability, assess program success, evaluate pedagogical techniques and confirm that every child is learning. Data-based decision-making inspires change and provides motivation to improve student outcomes.

Teachers and administrators can collect and analyze data in areas such as assessment, student behavior, demographics, student health, community socioeconomic status, student participation and leadership feedback. Collecting data in all these areas can help school leaders assist students with their learning and reallocate resources. Data allows school districts to understand the overall academic performance of a particular school and to make informed decisions regarding funding and curriculum development.

School principals can use data to address an identified problem within a school and determine the cause instead of acting impulsively. Studies have shown that data-based decision-making can lead to increased achievement and student learning. With the advancements in today’s educational technology and specialized analytics, school leaders and educators can receive useful data about which students need extra help and who might be the best to lead a group project. Data analytics and data-driven decision-making can transform the educational landscape while saving teachers time and ensuring that each lesson is relevant to student needs.

Data-driven decision-making is also important in addressing the needs of students from underrepresented backgrounds. Addressing achievement gaps with students from low-income households and confronting inequities within the education system provide insight into how programs and parental support impacts the overall achievement of students. Armed with data, school leaders can implement policies and guide teachers on how to best serve students.

Next Steps

Using data can help identify students who need assistance, recognize gaps in curriculum content and better align education practices. School leaders can help make data-informed decisions by collecting accurate real-time data, ensuring data accuracy, providing easy access to data and collaborating with teachers regarding opportunities to change and improve. The online program at SIUE offers field experience in data-driven school improvement and accountability, as well as courses in curriculum leadership, school law, instructional leadership, principalship and more.

Learn more about Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s online Education Specialist in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Principal Preparation program.

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