In this age of technology, data or information is abundantly available.
However, it is of limited or no value if not analyzed for effective decision making. Just collecting data does not result in decision making. If data is thoroughly analyzed, it can reveal patterns and trends, especially relating to human behavior and performance. Data analytics is a fast emerging and a very critical skill that every school, teacher and student should be equipped with. It is the most powerful tool available, nevertheless also the most ignored tool in the education space.
How does the analytics benefit the school ?
A school collects many data points such as student assessments, demographics, health concerns (physical and emotional/mental), alumni placement, online reputation, resource usage, teacher observation, financial expenses, attendance, visitors to the school, CCTV footage, fee collection, parent suggestions/ concerns, student feedback and so on. Although this data is collected, manually or through systems, it is hardly every analysed. Many school leaders continue to rely on their 'intuition' to make decisions. Unfortunately, they do not nurture a data driven culture.
Schools should analyse data to help make decisions about school policies, curriculum and instructions. If decision makers at the school pay close attention to the numerical patterns and trends interpreted from the analysed data, they can determine how well schools are doing and take steps towards improvements. They can also recognize and pre-empt various issues such as changing demographics and can develop action plans to address them.
How does the analytics benefit the teaching-learning process ?
Quick analysis of student performance data can make teachers do better lesson planning, perform remedial teaching and support continuous improvement of their students. It also helps them in their remedial teaching. Moreover, by using a platform that reports and analyses student performance data, teachers can save 80% of their time in doing administrative tasks and utilize that time in faculty building and improving subject matter expertise.
21st century schools have started “student-led conferences”, where students are trained to collect and analyze their assessment data. Students then meet their parents in the school to explain their performance and individual action plan to improve. This opens the line of communication with the parent and the students starts taking accountability of their own performance. This successfully enables a shift in the role of a teacher, with the student now in control of his/her learning.
Why did schools hesitate to do it before?
In the past, lack of trained resources, time and technology have prevented school leaders from analysing the data. School leaders were unaware and, in the absence of a data driven culture, they believed that one needs to make high investments in technology, in terms of tools and manpower capability to analyse data.
CCE assessment introduced by CBSE few years back, aimed to capture precious data points about each student. But how many school leaders have actually analyzed it over a period of time to develop a comprehensive student portfolio - not only academically but also as an individual child. The drawback of CCE was that the teachers were unable to analyze the voluminous data precisely.
Over the last 10 years, a number of cloud based (online) affordable platforms have proliferated across the country to help school leaders and teachers collect and analyse data. These easy to use and very affordable platforms are helping school leaders do quick trend analysis of school performance. School leaders should embrace such platforms and create a culture of data driven decision making in their school.
Schools have not yet realized that the “change” has already begun. The government is actively capturing data at every stage in different forms such as a child tracking system known as SARAL (Systematic Administrative Reforms for Achieving Learning by Students), baseline tests and U-DISE (Unified District Information System for Education) - an online database of schools maintained by the central government.The National Education Policy highlights a lot on data governance and we have been inspiring school leaders to develop a data driven culture.
It is not far, when schools will no longer issue a school leaving certificate, as the data would flow online from one school to another. With the school accreditation expected to begin soon, schools will need to effectively use data in the development of school improvement plans. It will bring forth a holistic view of how a school and its entire ecosystem are performing at any given point in time.
What platforms are available to schools to use data analytics?
Every school leader should see “data” as an opportunity and build trust among teachers that using data is about improving student performance and not about burdening teachers. They should encourage teachers and students to take ownership of data. Schools need to conduct training workshops on the data analytical platforms available online and the various methodologies which enable them to make the best use of the data.
One such platform that is currently being used by over 800 schools across India is Report Bee. Their platform is currently being used by over 15,000 teachers to record, report and analyse student performance data.
I would also encourage the school leaders to ask these platform providers to conduct teacher-training sessions that include data-analysis training focused on identifying data points, data collection, analysis & gathering resources to use the information to rethink their lesson plans.
You can reach out to the Report Bee team here: http://bit.ly/2LlOu1Q