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6 steps to follow to create a good data environment for your school

1st November 2017 | Mike Williams

Today, we take a closer look at the principles required to make a good environment for your school performance data. Having a good data environment and sound data processes is a prerequisite to getting more from your data.

1. Easy data input

The potential for data is always there. It is created in our every activity, every assessment, homework or observation. However, it is not always easy to capture this data. The input device may not be to hand or it may be a slow and cumbersome process to enter data. Being able to enter data quickly, intuitively and from any device is hugely important.

2. Standardised data format

It is easy to create a muddle of data spread across various teachers, captured in various formats. This is very often the case in schools, and the job of manipulating this data into something comprehensible can occupy a significant amount of teacher time.

It is true, you can create compensations and tweaks in your data to allow comparison, but ensuring it is comparable at source is far more powerful.

3. Consistency in marking criteria

Differences in marking behaviour can be a constant source of anguish for teachers trying to compare performance data. How can data be comparable across different grade types and subjective mark schemes? This is a topic that we will address in a later blog post where we will look into the controls you can put in place to create consistent marking. For a start, being able to see how other teachers are marking similar assessments can be hugely beneficial in encouraging consistency!

4. Ease of access to data

The most perfectly organised, brilliantly formatted, richly detailed data is useless unless people can access it. On your phone, on your tablet, from home and from abroad – to be powerful, data needs to be easily accessible.

5. Aggregation of data

So often a school’s data is isolated by teacher, by department, by year and requires a concerted effort to pull together the data sources – another time consuming and error-prone process.  Data needs to be connected to allow you to uncover trends across your school.

6. The right tools to interpret data

Once the data exists, the next challenge is to generate useful information from that data. Interpreting data is not an easy job, you need the right tools to integrate your data. Ideally you want this to be nice and simple as well - not everyone has a degree in statistics to fall back on! The advent of interactive visualisation, pioneered by the likes of Tableau and Qlik has made data visualisation and interpretation more accessible and easier to comprehend.

One thing that we don’t often see in the world of data analytics is a tool that can generate information for you, without the user so much as clicking their mouse. Taking the time out of interpreting your data is a huge step towards making your data an everyday resource that can be used by every teacher, rather than just those with the time and knowledge to analyse their data.

Conclusion

Bringing together these principles creates an environment where performance data can be used to the greatest extent. The potential for data in education is fascinating and we will delve deeper into that potential in later posts, so stay tuned!

Here's to a great 2018,

Mike

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