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How to alleviate the guessing from decision-making

Use data to guide your decisions

How can data alleviate the uncertainty in decision making for Islamic schools?

By Leila Shatara

For example, if a 3rd grade class is scoring low on a standardized reading assessment, what does that mean? Is it instructional practices? Curriculum misalignment? Are the majority of students from homes where English is a second language and have limited access to reading books? Is the real culprit limited vocabulary? We can only answer these by gathering data and analyzing it and then strategically planning steps to resolve them. Using data to make decisions about what needs to be done is more effective and less stressful than conjecture.

What if a parent comes in to complain that his son’s 6th grade math teacher is horrible and the kids are not learning anything. Can an administrator pull data that shows the skills taught and mastered in the 6th grade? Does the school have clearly outlined skills and objectives to be learned in 6th grade math and a method of analyzing which students mastered what skills? These all require documented data and ability to analyze and use the data.

Data is not just for academics either, what if a parent came in and said there’s a bullying problem in 3rd grade. Is it a bullying problem or is it gossip? How do we document discipline problems with students, parent requests for meetings, parent complaints? Do we compile this data at the end of a term or mid-year to analyze why students are being referred or why parents are coming in to speak to administrators? Was it a communication problem, a misunderstanding through communication or is it a policy that needs changing?

All these questions and more can be answered by collecting and using data. Learning how to collect data on teacher evaluations, student academic performance, parent relationships, student discipline and instructional practices and then use that date effectively requires that school leaders and teachers receive data analysis training. School improvement based on data analysis allows schools to identify problems/concerns and then gives them the ability to come up with solutions. CISE has specific training for data driven decision making and data driven instructional practices. Before setting goals or making strategic plans, call CISE for a school-wide training on using data to better inform your school improvement process! Ask the right questions, collect the data, analyze the data, set priorities and goals, develop strategies, monitor results, and repeat the cycle for continuous improvement in your school!

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