Recently, ECA launched its Data and Evidence-Informed Practices series with a virtual professional learning event entitled Connecting the Dots: Using Data as the Foundation for School Improvement. The primary objectives were to:

  1. Introduce a process for understanding and using data for school improvement.
  2. Present/Discuss ways to analyze and use different types of assessment data to inform program improvement.
  3. Practice using a protocol for examining and having conversations around data.

Critical concepts presented in the event:

  • Data tells a story about staff, leadership, and policy changes needed to improve quality and the extent to which changes have been successful.
  • Routinely using data to frame conversations and defining practice problems produces more targeted and intentional improvements and more positive outcomes.
  • A good data story requires that we integrate multiple data sets. It requires that we look for patterns in data and understand the possible causes that underly the findings.
  • We build School improvement plans on data. Schools use data to create a school profile that includes program and child assessment information, set strategic objectives, shape initiatives, reflect on current practices, set benchmarks, and measure impact.
  • As early childhood professionals, we can provide meaningful data to inform these plans and advocate for the needs of young children and families. The more compelling the data, the more likely it will be noticed and incorporated into a broader agenda. We can jumpstart the process by having school teams engage in a self-reflection, answering such questions as:
    • How comfortable are you with analyzing and having conversations around data for school improvement?
    • What data have you collected, and how did you use it?
    • How has the data-informed your program improvement plans?
    • What are some challenges you confronted?
    • What would increase your level of comfort and confidence?
  • Not all educators are comfortable with data and how to use it. In our experience, we have encountered many folks with excellent analytical skills but who are data phobic. Even if we are not phobic about data, we can all benefit from a systematic process for reviewing and responding to Data. We recommend the Data Action Model, a five-step approach that involves:
    1. Reviewing Existing Data and Asking Questions
    2. Triangulating Data
    3. Defining Problems of Practice and Goal Setting
    4. Action Planning
    5. Evaluating Success and Next Steps
  • Reviewing data and defining problems of practice is the foundation of this work. In our zeal to improve quality, we have this tendency to rush to find the problem and jump right to strategies – Typically, we fail to address the central issue. About 30% of the time in the data action model targets reviewing data and developing the problem.
  • Using data protocols can help us be more reflective and deliberate in our approach.


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