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5 Myths About Analytics in K-12 Education

Frontline

Data wasn’t always at the forefront of decision making in schools. Without digital processes or records, analyzing student and district performance levels was time-consuming and complicated. But as technology has become widely available and integrated in both pedagogy and the physical classroom, it has quickly become apparent that data isn’t just something that’s nice-to-have, it is a necessity.

Data allows you as an administrator to analyze what’s happening in your district down to a micro-level. By leveraging analytics, you can tap into data to make more informed decisions for the benefit of your students and communities. However, it’s not just school district leaders who walk the avenue of analytics. Teachers, principals, or school nurses all have data on their minds.

Most people in K-12 education have their first experience with analytics by trial and error. Perhaps you found yourself building a bar chart or exporting data from your favorite educational tool or assessment. Whatever the case, if you had questions to answer or problems to solve, you probably started digging to find the details hidden within.

Though the benefits of skillful data analysis are endless, the how — implementing data analytics — can still feel like a daunting task. Myths surrounding analytics don’t exactly help, either. By dispelling some common myths surrounding analytics, we hope to help you explore new ways to supercharge your analysis and harness the full power of your data (that you’re already collecting) to make better-informed decisions for your district.

Myth 1: “We have data everywhere; we cannot bring it all together easily.”

TRUTH: Large data sets and cross-referenced data present even more critical opportunities to find areas of improvement.

Integrating and referencing student-related data can be implemented using the student ID, which every district tracks and is a common thread between student-related data points. Other common fields can also be leveraged — depending on the analysis — such as the security of student data. Given the state of K-12 cyber landscape, protecting, and investing in data management is more crucial than ever.

No matter what the student-related data may relate to, bringing all sets of that data together in one place — by working with one connected platform — allows district leaders to make more informed and improved decisions.

Myth 2: “I don’t have the skills to build meaningful analytics. We need to hire someone to do it.”

TRUTH: As a leader, you may not have the right amount of time to dedicate to building analytics, but this is an opportunity to empower your team.

What are the questions you’re most asked as an administrator? What if you were able to get answers faster? Analytics may be the key to providing a confident answer to questions like:

  • What is at stake if a school continues to see declining enrollment?
  • Do you need to change staffing levels?
  • Do you need more special ed services or a reading coach?
  • Do you need to rezone and consider more options?

Consider first leading your team through a few simple questions to help them feel empowered to tackle the tough questions.

Myth 3: “Our team can’t pull this off.”

TRUTH: It’s simple: Once your teams understand exactly how data can improve team, student, and district performance, they will feel empowered to begin suggesting and making tangible changes. In turn, there will be a noticeable difference in engagement when it comes to building your analytics.

Before building analytics, it may be beneficial to first consider how well your administration team can study what’s available using basic data. Not only does studying as a team build confidence and trust, but it also helps to spark curiosity.

Myth 4: “It’s too expensive.”

TRUTH: Although cost — or perceived cost — can be a barrier, developing a culture of data can eventually save your district money.

Having the ability to access and analyze financial data quickly and easily is one of the many cost-saving benefits. Here are a few examples of financial data you may analyze to identify new efficiencies and ultimately save money:

  • Targeting overstaffing situations
  • Identifying overall loss of enrollment
  • Tracking overspending compared to neighboring districts

What may be beneficial to combat the cost of data analytics is communicating your financial situations clearly. By doing so, you may be able to achieve a more favorable credit rating and refinance your bonds to your advantage.

Myth 5: “It will take forever for us to build the analytics we need.”

TRUTH: Does building analytics take time and attention? Yes, but the good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.

Instead of laying down the building blocks yourself, what if there was an efficient tool to build your analytics? What if that tool sped up your data analytics process because it did the hard part for you?

That’s where Frontline Analytics can help! With a state-of-the-art analytics solution, Frontline helps your district leaders tap into their data to make more informed decisions for the benefit of students and communities.

These 5 myths can be discouraging components of building analytics in K-12 education. There are strategic, actionable insights waiting for you in your data, so don’t be intimidated by them. Leverage your data to drive district-wide decisions and experience the undeniable benefits of analytics today.

Erin Shelton

Erin is a writer and member of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. With experience in education, she is passionate about creating content that helps to support and impact the growth of both students and teachers.