She blinded me with science!

Many instructional coaches are learning the science of data work.  This work can be time decisionsconsuming, tedious, and often more valued by administrators than teachers. This work can also be overwhelming, as more and more data sources are available each year.  To help alleviate these concerns, develop a data plan with your adminstrators and teachers.  It may help to consider the following:

  • More data is always better, until you have too much.  As the coach, you may need to be the Goldilocks of data. What’s too much, what’s too little, what’s just right?
  • Present data in as simple a form as possible, but not simpler.  As much as I love a beautiful spreadsheet, data presentation is an art, not just a science. It’s the art of communicating data in the way that makes the most impact.
  • Data needs a face. We need to remember that our data is not about the weather, it’s about our students. Whenever possible, use student names or even pictures when working with data.
  • Use data that’s worth it.  What data sources are both effective and efficient?

So, what data is “worth it”? Consider using the E vs. E graphic organizer (available on our Help Yourself! page). This tool will guide your discussion about each data source regarding Effectiveness versus Efficiency.  Ideally, every data source would fall in Quadrant I: Highly Effective and Highly Efficient. When you find data sources that fall in Quadrant II or IV, your discussion can then move to improving on the area of weakness.  If you find your discussion regarding particular data sources centers in Quadrant III, some serious change may be needed.

Summing up (see what I did there?), educators need good data. We need data sources and processes that are both effective and efficient. Instructional coaches need to guide others to a future where we all not only say:

“In God we trust; all others must bring data (W. Edwards Deming).”

But we also say:

In data we trust, but only if it’s worth it.

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