If you ask school leaders if data is important, you’ll get an almost-universal “yes.” You’ll get vows to use data to drive decisions, rosters of data teams, binders of graphs, analyses of standard-by-standard performance on benchmarks and assessments, demographics breakdowns and trends over time, and plenty of charts showing all kinds of trends moving up and down over time.
But you’re also likely to get a lot of anxiety, confusion, and simple fear about how to approach data, what to do so that data isn’t wasted, and what kind of truth the data will show us. You’ll get a lot of barriers and resistance from teachers and leaders.
What you’ll probably get the least is anyone who says, “Yes, I’ve been trained on how to use data and I’m confident in putting it at the center of my practice!”
The SJDSP was formed so that no educator ever again feels like they are expected to lead or teach with data but lacks the skillset and mindset to do so effectively. We are an organization for data leaders, whether you operate under a “data specialist” title or are a de facto data leader through your work as a superintendent, curriculum director, central office leader, supervisor, principal, assistant principal, coach, or teacher. We provide a space for data leaders to network, learn from each other and from experts, share what they’re proud of, and pose problems of practice to a group will to brainstorm solutions. We also come together to advocate for best practices in data– better data quality, more useful data reports, higher quality training in using data, and more.
At our first meeting, one of our members brought up the question, “How can we as data leaders best serve students in the classroom?” This is the question that drives our work.
We hope you’ll stay with us as we move forward with our mission. We encourage all educators interested in data to connect with us and open a dialogue about what encourages, inspires, and challenges you in using data to improve outcomes for state departments of education, districts, schools, teachers, and students!