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Make student data over-the-counter

By Jenny Rankin
July 25, 2014
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Student data systems can help educators differentiate and personalize instruction, use formative assessments effectively and optimize districtwide tech initiatives. In short, they can revolutionize education.

Yet student data is only as effective as an educator's ability to interpret it. Most data reports fall short because they are counterintuitive or difficult to understand.

Fortunately, there is a solution, and it doesn't involve reinventing the wheel. By following the example set by other industries, such as over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, administrators can make huge strides in helping educators understand and use student data in ways that will make a real difference to student learning. In fact, simply including a one-pager explaining data and how to interpret it — similar to the inserts you'd find in an over-the-counter drug package — more than triples educators' accuracy in interpreting it.

Jenny Grant Rankin, Ph.D., is a former award-winning teacher, school administrator, school district administrator, and chief education and research officer of a student data systems company. She oversaw supporting educators' data use in all of her administrator/executive roles, and her Ph.D. in education features a specialization in school improvement leadership.