Here’s How Analytics Can Guide ESSER Investments for Equity in Schools
Buzz words like “learning gaps” and “marginalization” spring up at every turn for educators working hard to bring their communities through the pandemic and support students’ well-being and achievement. These phrases can be thrown around as lip-service, but school leaders and teachers know what they really represent: individual students who have strengths, talents, smarts, but need more specialized support to achieve success.
So, for K-12 leaders, being able to easily identify factors influencing a student’s success or struggle can help:
- address inequities where they exist in learning environments
- confront disproportionalities in a district
- meet families where they are.
A white paper from the Frontline Research & Learning Institute examines the impact of student and location analytics — that is, the impact of tools that compile and report on the factors influencing student success, data on which lives across all the platforms a district uses. With these analytics readily available, school leaders can make decisions about budget planning — specifically, the use of ESSER funds — to create a more equitable learning environment for all.
Analytics Can Help Guide Investment Decisions
Student Analytics Carry Rich Insights into Student Lives and Needs within the School Building
Student analytics include the metrics that can shed light on a student’s day-to-day engagement with the school community and their own education.
Analysis of three main metrics of engagement can reveal which students may be “slipping through the cracks”:
Records of how often a student is in school (or not) can reveal truths about their life outside of school and patterns about the times of the week, day, semester, or year when they may consistently be elsewhere. After analysis, targeted supports can aim to alleviate absenteeism.
Progress, course, semester, and year grades suggest more than aptitude. They can show fluctuations in engagement and even suggest the type of teacher profile that may make a student feel more able to learn, all of which helps school personnel better understand the full picture of a student’s life.
Discipline records, including notes by school personnel who most often handle matters of discipline, can reveal patterns about the time of day, week, semester, or year that a student is on edge, or further, what may trigger that student. These factors can guide the implementation of support structures.
With knowledge of the “impact points” that may be affecting a student’s success in an outsized manner, school leaders can move to support students in a way that meets them where they are as an individual with a complex set of factors impacting learning and well-being.
Location Analytics Carry Rich Insights into Students’ Lives and Needs outside of the School Building
Just as certain metrics reveal more than others about a student’s life within the school building, certain metrics reveal more about a student’s life outside of school. This intel can give school leaders a much more nuanced view of what is affecting a student’s success, what the right approach to support may be — and what a misstep it would be to assume too much.
Analysis of three main metrics of life outside of school can help reveal some appropriate supports for students:
Being able to pull visually digestible maps of the areas that students live, with the factors that affect life there clearly measured, can shed light on appropriate supports both in and out of school.
With an understanding of area, leaders can cultivate partnerships with local community organizations – groups and people who live and work in that same area, and who may be able to better discern the right kind of championing for a student’s family.
Whether school happens remotely or not, today’s students need internet access to be successful. With Location Analytics, school leaders can see which of their students have nonexistent or unreliable access to the internet.
Analytics Help School Leaders be People-Leaders
School leaders aren’t data scientists or statisticians, nor were they ever meant to be. They’re people-leaders, community organizers, and supporters of individual students. When it becomes an educator’s full-time job to navigate through data – it’s become too much. Instead, tools that make it quicker and easier to see and understand the factors influencing a student’s success help school leaders be who they are: a champion for students.
With student and location analytics, patterns of opportunity gaps become clearer — and that makes investment decisions that will create a more equitable learning environment for students that much clearer, too.