Seminars vs. Systems

After being in the district analytics field for a few years now, we’ve become familiar with quite a few of the organizations, products, and services contributing to district-wide efficiency and effectiveness. From seminars for district business officials and administrators, to non-profits aiding in the cause for process improvement, awareness and opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness at school districts is …

“Peeling back” the Layers of Understanding in a District Department

When speaking with leaders and administrators, one insight we’ve gleaned in increasing efficiency and effectiveness is that districts don’t have easy access to critical information in the more granular areas within district departments. Due to limitations of state reports and other budgets, fund, function, and object code only get districts so far in understanding how well an area of concern …

How to Make the Best Use of District Data

District budgets, performance management tools, scorecards & dashboards, Key Performance Indicators, etc. These are all important terms when speaking of executing high level district finance and operations strategies. However, albeit important, are they useful? Three or so years ago, Harvard Business Review put out an article entitled, “Good Data Won’t Guarantee Good Decisions.” They spoke about a firm who evaluated …

District Benchmarking Outside the Classroom

Benchmarking is a process and tool for comparing both the performance and practices of organizations that perform similar services and functions. Benchmarking is just beginning to be used broadly in education and many existing approaches use high level benchmarks, such as food service spending as a percent of total in Food Services, that only lead to the need to do more …

Lagging vs. Leading Indicators in the Balanced Scorecard

In Paul Niven’s book, Balanced Scorecard Evolution, Niven discusses the importance and difference between leading and lagging indicators when developing an effective organizational balanced scorecard. He says lagging indicators, are “performance measures that represent the consequences of actions previously taken…They frequently focus on results at the end of a time period and characterize historical performance.” Leading Indicators, on the other …

The Missing Link in District Data and Systems

Educators are learning to use data to improve student achievement.  Most districts we work with rate their ability to use data to improve student achievement as a four on a 5-point scale with five being the best rating.  These same districts rate their use of data outside the classroom at a two.  None of the districts we have talked to or work with …

The School District Spending Iceberg – What’s Below the Surface?

School districts know what departments, programs, and services are spending.  They may even understand spending/student.  However, as the tip of the iceberg is only a sliver of a monstrous mass, this spending information only gives you a small depiction of the ways schools minimally delineate the sources of spending and efficiency in each district area.  In the book, Stretching the School Dollar, Marguerite Roza from the …