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From Attendance to Assessment (and Beyond): What Data Can Do

February 05, 2016

There are plenty of ways for teachers to use data to support their students - we’ve even written about some of them on this very blog. But analytics tools aren’t just about tracking student performance and behavior in class – they can also uncover important trends and give teachers the insight to offer help when it’s needed most. All around the country, schools are using the power of data in creative ways to make a difference for their students.

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for example, the school district uses data analytics to find students whose test scores are dropping, or who have continued trouble with absences. As the district’s Chief Innovation Officer put it, “that improves our ability to know more about our students and be proactive in responding to issues that we otherwise might not see.”

Or take Spokane, Washington, where the graduation rate has risen nearly 8 percent in just three years. Their “early-warning system” helps them identify important patterns and predict which students need help and when. Schools in Alabama, meanwhile, have created secure data dashboards that pull together all kinds of information (from attendance to test scores) and create a clear picture of what each student needs.

Using data in class can teach us a lot about how our students perform and what we can do to support them. But these schools are zooming out to track the larger trends in secure and powerful ways, and they’re seeing results – not just in the classroom, but in the whole school community.