Measuring Cause – Effect Between Activities and Results in Education

Posted on October 9, 2012 by Steve

Most educational organizations have used the same measurement systems for years.  These measures are usually driven by state and federal reporting requirements.  A review of district web sites indicates a trends towards reporting test scores, attendance, graduation rates and traditional financial measures such as spending per student, revenues and other financial ratios.

Most of these statistics measure outcomes – the sum result of the district’s strategy and activities.  Yet, few districts measure the connection between actual performance and activity.  Spending, for example, is a result of 1) revenues, 2) how efficiently a district operates, 3) how productively and effectively services are delivered, and 4) the scope of services provided.

Let’s focus on efficiency.  Every district wants to be more efficient.  Few, however, measure the connection between spending and the efficiency of each department.  If the connections isn’t being measured, then decision makers and leaders can’t manage efficiency.  If leaders can’t see which factors impact performance, then its harder to engage employees and managers.  The result? – weak management control and influence over efficiency.

The cause – effect is missing.  Leaders need data systems that track that allow them to understand, measure and manage the relationship between activities and results.

I remember being involved in the strategic planning process for a large urban system.  Our planning efforts discussed solutions, all of which required spending; but, we never assessed or discussed cause – effect.  It was hard to understand, for example, why we couldn’t/wouldn’t talk about the need to evaluate and work directly with teachers, and why lack of this process could indeed contribute to poor student achievement.  And when it came to spending, we failed to assess how efficiently current services were being delivered.  Again, no cause-effect discussion.

We need to step out of the rut of solely measuring outcomes and starting measuring cause-effect relationships in education, from operations to administration to the classroom.  Enlīt’s data-driven tools measure cause and effect between spending and efficiency, activities and results.  By doing so, we help leaders have a deeper understanding of performance and make smarter decisions that produce better results.

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