5 Principles for Decision-Making Using K-12 Talent Data
In recent years, districts and states have made great strides in both the implementation of K-12 data tracking systems and more strategic approaches to human capital management (HCM).
The trick that remains is marrying the two: creating K-12 HCM systems that strategically leverage data to tell a sophisticated story and lead to smarter human capital management decisions.
The right lens on human capital management data could turn the tide on teacher recruitment and retention.
While there is so much data available to districts, it’s easier said than done to combine all of that data and view it through the right lens. But given how important teachers are to student achievement — especially when competition for high quality educators is so fierce and the need to address student learning loss is so great — it’s imperative that district leaders start to think holistically about the ways they manage talent.
A Frontline Research & Learning Institute white paper explored lessons from the last few decades and potential lessons to unlock the power of talent data for better HCM decision-making. Here are five simple principles to keep in mind when using data to drive your HCM strategy.
1. All data is not necessarily useful or relevant.
When it comes to K-12 talent data, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest through the trees. Most likely, you have more data points to collect and analyze than you need. So determine ahead of time – what data is relevant, what will it tell you, and how will you act on it?
What’s important in one school district could vary greatly from another. Think about what you want to accomplish with your human capital management program, and start there. Determine a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs) that will capture a snapshot of your progress towards your HCM goals. If you’re using SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound — you’ll have an easier time discerning what data is most relevant for your KPIs.
Don’t let the sheer volume of data keep you from focusing where you need to.
2. The translation of data into action requires thoughtful planning, training and practice.
Just having data won’t make a difference. Acting on your relevant data (as defined above) takes thoughtful planning, collaboration with other key decision-makers – and lots of practice!
K-12 talent decision-making processes should be oriented toward specific, shared understanding of outcomes – what results are we looking for? What decisions will we make based on what we see? Getting all key department leaders to collaborate around the goals and expectations will lead to better HCM decision-making based on your talent data.
3. The data that is collected must be trusted.
Again, collaboration among key stakeholders is key so that the data that will be used is not called into question once it’s decision-making time. When conducting teacher evaluations, for example, strive to make the process as transparent and collaborative as possible, and give teachers access to their own evaluation history, so they can easily see — and demonstrate — their own professional growth.
Educators also must perceive the data as honest and accurate in order for it to be impactful. They must also feel that the data collected won’t be used against them. Remember, people are what matters most; data collection is meant to support your teachers, not push them out the door.
4. Data collection and use must be part of an iterative cycle.
Testing hypotheses. Measuring outcomes. Making course adjustments.
That iterative cycle is key when it comes to smarter use of K-12 talent data to drive HCM decisions. With data, we can determine what we think the outcome will be, measure it and then make small adjustments for a big impact based on what we learn.
Tools like benchmarks are already built into some K-12 talent data systems, allowing you to not only measure your progress against yourself, but to also see how you compare against other districts. Now that’s some perspective!
5. Data systems must be flexible.
Disconnected K-12 talent software can turn the work of collecting and analyzing data into a web of confusion. By breaking down barriers between systems, you’ll easily draw connections across various areas of your human capital management – from recruiting and hiring, to employee absences, to professional learning and evaluations.
Connected data helps you maintain flexibility to focus on what matters most: the data that will enable smarter HCM decisions that support your educators.
Want to learn more about how the right data can drive strategic human capital management in K-12?
Allison (Ali) Wert is the former Content Marketing Manager of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She has nearly 10 years' experience writing about education topics, including best practices for K-12 strategic human capital management. Under her leadership, the team at Frontline was recognized as the Winner of CMA's 2017 Project of the Year and Best Content Marketing Program.