Friday, 10 June 2011

Data: Use and Mis-use

As a leader, how do you guide appropriate use of data and for what purposes?

School districts have devoted significant resources to the development of data management systems.  There is an enormous amount of information available to us - sometimes so much that we don't know where to begin.  And, when we do take the plunge, we worry that perhaps the data are being used incorrectly, or even that some data should not be used at all.

When considering the potential uses of data, it is important for us as responsible professionals to also consider and be cautious of potential misuses.  There are two significant issues.  The first issue is balancing the individual's right to privacy with the staff's need for access to the data necessary to make decisions that will improve instruction and increase student achievement.  ...

The second potential misuse of data comes from the overwhelming amount of data now available to us.  Data mashups are integrations of data from various sources.  When those mashups make use of data that legitimately belong together, the interpretations made can be helpful and even insightful.  However, when well-intentioned but untrained individuals combine disparate data sets that do not belong together, the results are misleading and any interpretations of the data are invalid.

Issues of data mismanagement are best addressed through attention to school culture and to processes that mitigate concerns.  They cannot be allowed to derail efforts to use data appropriately to improve instruction and increase student achievement.

From:  The Evidence-Based School by Karen Hume
Published by: Pearson


  1. The 4Cs of data analysis help us to avoid the misuse of data. When we examine data we ask: Is the data complete? concealing? consistent? comparative? These questions can help us to dig deeper, disaggregate the data and generate questions that lead us to new understandings.

  2. Claire Hainstock8 July 2011 at 10:54

    Data collection and use in schools is too widely dispersed with too many people having responsibility for it while at the same time having ownership of it housed in one area - the principal.

    Is the fact that the data is not widely distributed and analyzed, with specific bench-marketing occurring creating a culture of data disrespect?