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 had a tool that allowed them to integrate the use of student, financial, and other data into a coherent model for evaluation and improvement of the entire organization.
Lack of data use outside the classroom means that district leaders cannot use data to evaluate the impact, contribution and efficiency of support services. It also means they do not have a system that works for them to improve the efficiency and quality of services to the classroom. So many districts are in the awkward position of pushing for better results from teachers and students but lack the data-driven tools to help others do the same.
I recognized this issue when I left a position in a Fortune 50 corporation and took on the role of Business Manager/COO of a 40,000-student district. I found that school districts were decades behind businesses in the use of data, analysis and metrics for evaluation and improvement. Educational leaders are not being introduced to methods such as Lean, Process Improvement, Baldrige, Balanced Scorecards, and others – all methods that have helped organizations achieve world-class performance. This is where I saw the opportunity. Develop a comprehensive measurement, benchmarking and analytical tool that could be used by every district in the country to first, measure internally, second, compare and third, integrate best practice-based improvement methods.
Today clients around the country are learning and using our tools to help them do their best for students. One of our clients called our tool the “missing link” between the issues they can measure and the steps needed to start improving. Others have told us that this tool solves the problem that no one has been able to solve – a system for managing and focusing every part of the district on student success.
We are thrilled that district leaders are beginning to understand the value of data and analysis in the classroom, outside the classroom, and as a management system. The opportunity to work with leaders who are using the Theory of Action, PELP, Baldrige and Lean is especially exciting. These districts are all striving to be high performers that will teach and develop the students and leaders our country needs.
Steven C. Pereus
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