Data Analysis Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard
December 1, 2011
Tagline: Better understand data analysis pitfalls and ways to circumvent them, compliment research-based efforts to improve data analysis accuracy in ways that increase the effectiveness of each endeavor, and empower staff to analyze data effectively without exhausting time, personnel, and/or funds.
Short Description: Educators aware of data’s value are using data to inform their decisions. Unfortunately, educators are making data analysis errors, even at districts applying research-based practices and at districts known for their data use. While professional development, data teams, data discussions, and more are known to help, there are additional, untapped opportunities for aid that honor educators’ tendency to view data in isolation, honor time/budget/personnel constraints, and assist analysis accuracy no matter where data is viewed. This session will explore such solutions while examining research supporting their need and providing examples of common analysis pitfalls to avoid.
Long Description: Research touts the benefits of drawing data-informed conclusions to improve learning. Thus, educators all over the country are using data to inform decisions. However, many (and in some areas, the majority) of educators are making data analysis errors, thus jeopardizing students impacted by the data-misinformed decisions they make. How can this be, when many of these same educators are benefitting from research-based practices such as professional development paired with related expectations for staff, site-based data teams to assist with data interpretation, data discussions with clear focus, access to data experts, and student involvement in analysis and goal setting? Even at a district with the funds and ability to adhere to the above recommendations with fidelity, most teachers are making errors. While the endeavors noted above are helping, we need to arm teachers and administrators with tools to help them understand data they use both when they are with others and in those isolated moments, and we need to do this in a way that doesn’t exhaust time, personnel, and/or funds. Such solutions exist, and they are based on educational research concerning data and assessment management systems, report design, error types, and teacher practice, with a blend of common sense to bridge gaps in existing research.