The key to using data effectively? Start with mindsets

6a010536aec25c970b01bb088af5cb970dCollecting and sharing data is critical for schools and districts to pinpoint problems and craft solutions, but data alone doesn’t guarantee improvement. A number of factors affect data use—including getting data in time to make necessary changes, the skills of those analyzing the data, and, perhaps most importantly, the mindsets of those expected to act on the data.

In the November issue of Educational Leadership, McREL’s president and CEO, Bryan Goodwin, dives into the power of mindsets and school culture in using data to guide improvements. He cites examples of both effective and ineffective data use among teachers and leadership teams—noting that “what teams see in data says a lot about their mindsets about students and schooling.”

For example, in a school where the mindset is “We’re okay; our students are the problem,” data might be used to determine which kids need tutoring or to go to afterschool programs. In another school, teachers may dig deeper into the data, questioning each other and their own practices to figure out how best to help struggling students.

Such self-reflection, Goodwin asserts, only happens when school leaders create safe environments for their teachers to recognize and learn from their strengths and their shortcomings. Without this kind of environment, all the data in the world won’t make a difference.

Read the entire column here.

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