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5 Principles for Decision-Making Using K-12 Talent Data

Human Resources

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 (the support of educators and other key personnel).

The trick that remains is marrying the two: creating K-12 human capital management (HCM) systems that strategically leverage data to tell a sophisticated story and lead to smarter human capital management decisions.

In a new white paper, the Frontline Research & Learning Institute 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.

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 are not called into question once it’s decision-making time.

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?

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Allison Wert

Allison (Ali) Wert is the Content Marketing Manager of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She has been writing about education topics for nearly 10 years and specializes in 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. Ali also helps to manage marketing for the Frontline Research & Learning Institute and The Line.

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