Sunday, November 29, 2015

Data Shouldn’t be a Dirty Word

As educators, we use the D-word a lot, I mean a LOT!  Then, when we get the data, we do a lot with it.  Fill in the blank, I am going to _______ the data.  Did any of the following come to mind?  Look at, analyze, use, dig into, scan, evaluate, organize, share, cite…you get the picture.

Lately data has been a large part of my life.  Personally, with some recent home improvements I've been looking at our budget to determine what we can and cannot afford.  And of course professionally data continues to be a driving force behind many of the decisions we have to make.  Just like I am not going to make a huge purchase because I have a feeling I can afford it, I can't make any instructional decisions based on hunches either.

This brings me to my list.  When I sit down and go through data, it helps me to approach the task with certain prerequisites. I find that if I keep the following in mind, the task of analyzing data becomes less intimidating and far more productive.

It is always important to check and recheck the numbers

When you decide to sit down with the data, be sure to give yourself enough time

It’s always a good idea to talk it out with a colleague

If your findings aren’t favorable, don't take it personally

Look at the results as a first step towards action

Don't ignore what the data is telling you

They are more than just numbers, the data represents learners whose needs we must meet

The positives need to be looked at as much as the negatives

It is okay to come away with more answers than questions (you probably will

Get to it and keep it timely because data doesn't age well