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Using Data in Your School: Part 1

Gardner-Webb University

Using Data in Your School: Part 1How Data can Effectively Change Schools

In the ever-evolving context of school leadership, it is essential that administrators fully understand all facets of their responsibilities. Among many, it is the administrator’s job to empower teachers to make data driven/student-centered decisions, evaluate the effectiveness of a school’s curriculum, and determine the status of overall school goal attainment. Data is an essential tool that can be a catalyst for change within a school system if all stakeholders understand how to disseminate the information, and feel confident in making data-driven decisions.  It is essential for administrators to empower teachers, allow teachers to make data-driven choices, and keep stakeholders involved and informed by sharing key pieces of data.

Administrators are now more than ever responsible for the overall quality of the learning/teaching environment. The expectation is that building leaders will provide an atmosphere where teachers feel valued, appreciated, and empowered. It is no longer acceptable to have teachers assume the sole job of instructor. Gone are the days of having teachers feel that they are simple laborers, reporting for daily duty. Instructors should instead be viewed as an active, invaluable part of the educational process. With this new focus on the value of teachers, it brings about a greater responsibility for administrators to make efforts to ensure individuals feel empowered, secure in their positions, and appreciated for their artistry.

According to Manitoba, “Educators need to constantly work toward improving their school climate, culture, and conditions so that student learning is improved.” (Manitoba, 2001) It is the job of the administrator to facilitate teacher empowerment to ensure a climate that is conducive to change, and willing to alter its direction to best meet the needs of the school community. Teachers who are empowered will work to empower their students to succeed. With any career, it is essential that educators feel that they are valued, appreciated, and respected.

In order to maintain a positive environment for students, a school administration must foster a positive working environment for instructors. Teachers need to arrive at the workplace feeling excited and ready to go to work. One way to empower instructors is to teach them how to utilize data, how to drive instruction via data, and how to foster change based on their analysis of various data. It is imperative that a relationship of trust be established between administrators and teachers first. Administrators can then show instructors the power of utilizing data to create change. Hansen, Gentry, and Dalley support this by stating, “Data-driven schools become learning places, growing places, opportunity places, and change places. Abandoning weary and inappropriate traditions and conventions, schools literally become renewal sources and educators are change agents” (2003).

It is more important than ever for administrators to lead teachers to feel that they carry significance so that, through their empowerment, they will also empower their students to succeed at tremendous levels. It is up to the administrator to ensure that teachers understand their significance in empowering change through their attitude and actions. Instructors must feel important, and then be equipped with the appropriate knowledge to become even more knowledgeable.

 

Allen D Eury, Ed D

Dean of School of Education, Gardner-Webb University

Hunter Jolley:  Graduate Student at Gardner-Webb University

  Lora McKillop:  Graduate Student at Gardner-Webb University

 

This article will be continued in Part 2, next week.