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How Can Principals Use Data to Improve Schools?

The field of education has a unique opportunity to use data to enlighten instructional practice. Principals influence school operations, student outcomes and teacher instruction. Data can be crucial to these efforts, as school administrators can use it to anticipate needs, organize information, avoid bias and optimize processes. Quantitative and qualitative data can measure student achievement; inform changes to texts, assignments, assessments and class design; and track student progress and perspectives.

An online Education Specialist (EdS) in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Principal Preparation program from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE) can help graduates shape the future of PreK-12 education and fast-track their career in school administration. This EdS online program prepares educators to transition into school leadership roles while building on the expertise gained from earning a master’s degree. Students in this online program will study data-driven school improvement and accountability, the sociocultural foundations of education, school law, curriculum, instructional leadership and more.

How School Leaders Can Use Data

Used properly, data can improve instruction. By gathering, examining, analyzing and sharing data, school principals can identify issues in school policies, teaching methods, practices and community engagement strategies. This continuous practice of collecting data from quizzes, essays, analyses, individual and peer assessments, Google forms and exit tickets can improve teaching and learning outcomes. School leaders can use the information to assess which students are most likely to succeed and who may struggle. Taking action to help students before they start to fail can help students get back on the right path.

Below are some ways a school principal can use data to improve teaching and learning:

  • Establish performance goals. Focusing on specific goals can prevent school leaders and teachers from getting overwhelmed with data. Once clear objectives are in place, the school principal can examine exactly what actions could achieve those goals and develop the context to move forward.
  • Make information accessible. Data that is easy for teachers to understand is organized and uncomplicated. Visual data can make a significant impact rather than reading through dozens of pages of analysis. When using data effectively, students will benefit.
  • Predict student success rates. Using the available data can improve student learning practices and teaching methods. Academic analytics pinpoint students that excel in certain areas and highlight those who may be struggling. By creating an alert system that notifies educators and principals who may have lowering grades, these students can receive the necessary assistance.
  • Inform the curriculum. Understanding the needs of the student body can help formulate plans to modify the school curriculum. Addressing how instruction, class activities and assignments can better serve the needs of the students is an excellent example of how to use data to improve schools.
  • Evaluate teacher performance. Teachers significantly impact how students learn and perform in their individual classes. Using data to understand a teacher’s instruction performance can put them in a better position to help students succeed.

About Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville’s Online Degree Program

Students in this online degree program learn to use school-level data and research evidence to identify issues and develop meaningful solutions through courses such as the Data Driven School Improvement and Accountability: Theory and Research course and the Data Driven School Improvement and Accountability: Field Experience course.

In this increasingly data-driven world, professionals in every sector must know how to use and interpret data. Schools can benefit from data collection, and principals are in a unique leadership role to take advantage of it.

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

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