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We are a data-driven society these days. We’ve become used to companies collecting data about our purchases, whether we make them online or in a store. We know that websites and social media platforms are likely to save data about our browsing and clicking habits. Their purpose in capturing this information is to know us better as consumers, particularly the way our patterns tell a story. Looking at a wide range of data about our habits and preferences helps those who collect it understand why we make the choices we do, and figure out the best way to connect with us in the future. This is just one example of how data drives decision-making, and how those with the ability to understand and interpret data can craft strategies to achieve their goals.

This concept is not new, of course, but emerging technologies and fresh ideas are changing the way we think about data and how we use it. Educators are leading the way by using data-driven decision-making to invigorate teaching practices, create new learning and assessment tools, increase student engagement and drive campus achievement. In many cases, this practice is helping teachers and administrators transform their schools.

EDU 7561: Data-Driven Decision-Making is an anchor course of the Mississippi College Education Specialist in Educational Leadership program, offered in both academic tracks. Whether your focus is K-12 Administration or Curriculum & Instruction, this course covers the latest tools and most innovative strategies for using education data.

A Focus on Meaningful Data Use

Schools have access to more data on their students’ academic performance and learning experience than ever before, but this information is only meaningful if educators understand how to use it. For instance, teachers and administrators who receive an overwhelming volume of data back after a round of standardized testing can easily become frustrated by the sheer amount of information to go through. If they feel the amount is too large of a data set to work with effectively, or key indicators of student performance are difficult to sort or locate, these barriers to data use can prove challenging to overcome.

Students in EDU 7561: Data-Driven Decision-Making learn to how to separate the most timely and relevant information about student performance from the mass of available data. Cutting through data density is just one aspect of an effective data-driven practice, however. The course is also designed to give educators a larger frame of assessment, helping them to:

  • Identify connections between student progress, school and course curriculum, and teaching tools or strategies.
  • Reveal hidden needs and service gaps that impact student achievement.
  • Access the range of information required to determine the right type of support for individual students.

In addition, the course builds skills in data use for self-evaluation. This allows educators to better understand the role they play in classroom and campus success, and apply the principles of data-driven decision-making to their work with students and colleagues.

A Holistic Approach to Assessment

Data-driven decision-making may sound like a numbers game, but it’s not just about crunching stats from standardized tests and other types of annual assessments. It is actually a practice that strengthens many of the standards by which educators have always measured student success. It recognizes that important data also comes from grades on classroom tests, the quality of a student’s homework, his or her engagement during in-class assignments, and other areas of student experience.

Educators who practice data-driven decision-making take a more holistic approach to assessment and analysis, reading all forms of data for notable patterns and the stories they can tell. The practice simply incorporates a wider variety of perspectives on student progress, in addition to the educator’s firsthand experience. Considering data from diverse sources can help confirm the right course of action to address a specific issue or trend, and evaluation results can be used to address performance gaps in the classroom, across groups of students or throughout an entire school district.

Whatever its application, data-driven decision-making is a proven practice that helps educators refine their administrative skills and improve their schools.

Learn more about Mississippi College’s online Education Specialist in Educational Leadership — K-12 Administration track and the online Education Specialist in Educational Leadership — Curriculum & Instruction track.


Data-Driven Classroom: Introduction to Data-Driven Educational Decision Making

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