Why Data?

Since starting this position, I have had the privilege of being a member on the SLDS State Support Team Data Use Standards Working Group.  It is a team focused around creating standards for the knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors needed for effective data utilization.  This past July, we came out with Version II of the standards and also a companion deliverable, Standards in Practice.  I’m proud to say North Dakota is featured as a case study using the A+ Inquiry framework tied to the Data Use Standards.

Being a part of national working groups around data utilization is valuable in many facets – networking, sharing resources, creating visions, and also celebrating successes.  A team member from New Hampshire sent an email to us all this week sharing a video they have created to illuminate their answers to “Why Data?”  I recommend viewing during this busy, hustle holiday week as it will remind you the number one goal for all data use is always the positive impact on students.  Always.

 

Positive Slope

Last week, Dr. Nathan Anderson and I presented at the ND AdvancED/Learning Forward conference.  Our main focus was to give districts hands-on, practical strategies for tackling the Student Performance Diagnostic.  We kept our focus to the Top 3 Things to Consider:

  • Data Document
  • Evaluative Criteria
  • Diagnostic Questions

Districts are required to complete all three pieces; the diagnostic questions address areas of notable achievement and areas in need of improvement.  Prior to last spring, the data was available in the SLDS but required much external analyzing.  Because of this, Dr. Anderson created a spreadsheet method of accessing and analyzing the needed data from the SLDS.  It provides customization and is a testament to Nathan’s desire to help schools.  After the SLDS team reviewed the spreadsheet method and many discussions were had, new reports were made available directly on the SLDS titled District AdvancED and School AdvancED.  They tackle the twelve questions directly.

During our presentation, Nathan and I stressed the advantages and disadvantages to each method as nothing is an all inclusive fitting glove.  Each district needs to look at their reality and decide which route makes the most sense for them, whether that is the spreadsheet method created by Nathan, the reports available on the SLDS, or some other method created by an in-house person.  AdvancED exists to improve schools and the only thing that will truly make the improvement occur are the conversations that lead to decisions, not simply the entering the numbers and/or printing of reports.

With that, Nathan and I both feel passionate about data utilization and often joke we are very opposite minded people with the same vision.  In our presentation, I made reference to the spreadsheet being Nathan’s brain and the Data Utopia slide being mine.  We both have a positive slope and we both want what is best for North Dakota students, teachers, and districts.

 

AdvancED Connection

There are two new reports available to district and school admin. authenticated users of the ND SLDS.  One can be found under the blue “district” bar in the list of PK-12 reports and it’s titled DISTRICT ADVANCED.  The other can be found under the blue “school” bar in the list of PK-12 reports and its titled SCHOOL ADVANCED.

The SLDS team has been diligently working to update its current reports to align with the needs of educational data in the state.  One of the key areas emphasized this year has been the data required for AdvancED.  Last fall, it became apparent the data was available in the SLDS, but it was not analyzable directly from the reports – an external spreadsheet had to be utilized for school districts to answer the questions from AdvancED’s Student Performance Data Document.  Because of this need, updates were made throughout the year to the District Proficiency Trend report and in the spring, entirely new reports were created titled District AdvancED and School AdvancED.

These new reports provide districts the option to use the data available directly from the SLDS, without needing to do any external analyzing.  This advancement in the SLDS has been the combined effort of ITD staff, the Data Steward, REA Data Specialists, and the ND AdvancED Director.  Please note if you export this report, it must be to a PDF.

From the SLDS training completed by the Data Steward this fall, it has become evident districts are finding this report valuable for other data conversations as well such as curriculum/program improvement needs and grant writing.

 

American Evaluation Association Connection

I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with a colleague, Nathan Anderson – Data Management Specialist for Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative, to write a submission for the American Evaluation Association’s 365 blog feature.

Our post is centered around developing your data mindset, particularly on transforming data frustration to data utopia.

Please check it out here; it’s exciting to have our work be showcased on a national level.

 

Elementary Early Warning Indicators

The Early Warning Indicators research document from the ND State Longitudinal Data System’s team of researchers has been released for your information; it can be found for authenticated users via the blue question mark on the Student Snapshot report (this is the report sometimes referred to as the individual student view – it’s accessible by clicking on a student’s name once logged into the SLDS PK-12 reports).  For quick reference, I have also put the document as a link on the right side of this blog.  The research explains the Early Warning tab that has been added to the Student Snapshot report for grades 3-7.   A high school readiness probability of success score is available if the student has NDSA results in grades 3-8.

 

Data Governance

The North Dakota State Longitudinal Data System takes seriously its obligation to protect the privacy of data collected, used, shared, and stored.

A new tab has been added across the top of the SLDS site titled DATA GOVERNANCE.  This tab is accessible to ALL viewers of the SLDS – both public and authenticated.  The pages within the data governance tab contain state and federal policies the SLDS adheres to, data privacy and security procedures, as well as guidance and resources for various stakeholders.

I highly encourage you to read through the three different sections: