• Peggy Downs

How To Analyze the Data To Get the Results You Want

Updated: Feb 14

Most charter school leaders are drowning in assessment data. Students take state-mandated tests, internal school-wide tests, and curriculum-based tests. You are staring at your assessment reports and trying to decide where to start. Whether it’s DIBELS, NWEA, STAR, or some other school-wide assessment, odds are good that you need to prepare a report, set some goals, and monitor progress, while juggling a thousand other duties.


Students take state-mandated tests, internal school-wide tests, and curriculum-based tests.

What’s the best way to make sense of this data? It’s hard to find time to focus on the numbers. You need to see the big picture while still managing all the details. Is it possible? Yes! Let me share the basic questions that will guide you through this process to prepare a meaningful data analysis report for your stakeholders. This report will become the basis for setting and measuring your school improvement goals.


What reports do you need?

You will need overall summary reports, grade level summary reports, and disaggregated data reports for each sub-group that you need to track. If available, you should have available last year’s comparable reports for comparison. You will want to frame the reports as two separate scores: one for proficiency and one for growth for each group and subject.

Where do you start?

For a deeper dive into data analysis, download this FREE PDF doc: MAKE IT EASY TO MAKE IT MAKE SENSE. It includes definitions of data analysis terms and my tips for how to prioritize your data review. Start with this FREE tip sheet. Simply enter your email address at the prompt and I will send you this FREE PDF doc.  

Download Now.

What does the data tell you?

Start with your current academic goals. Do you have solid, easy-to-measure goals? If not, you will want to create them in this process. If you do, review them to measure your progress and be prepared to revise them for the upcoming academic period.


Study the data to look for trends. I like to start with “what’s working”. I target the areas that appear to be meeting or exceeding standards, or groups and subjects that made stronger than expected growth. Think about what causes might be contributing to this success. Did you provide strong professional development in your curriculum recently? Do you have fantastic returning teaches who have mastered your instructional methods? Always pay attention to what is working so that you don’t inadvertently block those efforts.


Then, I will tackle the areas of concern. Do you see grade levels that are struggling? Is your math curriculum producing growth but your early literacy is not? How are your special education students performing compared to their non-disabled peers? Sift through your data to truly understand how well you are meeting your goals for academic achievement.


For more information on using data, check out this book! Driven by Data


Guiding questions

Now that you have the data sorted and you understand your school’s performance, what do you do with this information? Invite some instructional leaders to join you in this activity. Ask your team the following questions and use your answers to develop your plan.

Overall Question: What needs to be improved to increase student achievement across the school?

  • What is our current performance level for each grade level and each major tested subject area?

  • What is the expected performance level for each?

  • What is the distance between the two (current vs. expected)?

  • How long do we have toget there?

  • What do we need to do differently to meet these goals?

  • What resources are needed to make this happen?

  • How will we measure our progress toward goals?

Develop SMART goals for each area that you set as priority targets. Determine how you will communicate your plan with your school community and how to measure success. Your school’s improvement depends on your willingness to lead this important effort and to monitor and support continued progress toward goals.

Where do you start?

For a deeper dive into data analysis, download this FREE PDF doc: MAKE IT EASY TO MAKE IT MAKE SENSE. It includes definitions of data analysis terms and my tips for how to prioritize your data review. Start with this FREE tip sheet. Simply enter your email address at the prompt and I will send you this FREE PDF doc.  

Download Now.



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Peggy Downs works with school leaders who want to leverage grants to dramatically increase funding, impact, and credibility for their schools. More info and a ton of free resources are waiting for you at:

www.peggydowns.com

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