“So what……?” Are you spending time on collecting data with no purpose?

The impact of Covid-19 on the health and wellbeing of children can be felt by everyone involved in education. Being able to quantify this impact is not an easy task.  

Schools are full of data; pupil attendance, SIMD, free school lunches, standardised tests, parental feedback, teacher assessments…. the list goes on. All this data can be very powerful, but only when teachers have time to analyse and then, most importantly, act on it.

With teachers under huge pressures, any time spent gathering data must be justified against the end goal. This comes down to what action will the school need to take if the results of the data are better/worse than expected. If the data will not result in any change in action, is the data needed?

Clearly defining the question you are trying to answer before you start collating data will save you so much time and effort in the long run.  Are you trying to validate teacher assessments? Or making sure parents are feeling connected to the school? Or trying to understand if children are feeling safe at school? Then, if you do not get the answer you expect (in a positive or negative way), do you have enough data to take action from the results?

I refer to this way of thinking about data analysis as “so what….?”. If a number has moved (or not) asking ‘so what?’ can focus the discussions. It allows you to dig into the root causes of data movements.

‘So what..?’ is one of my 5 principles of data analysis best practice. The others are,

  • Rubbish in = Rubbish out
  • What gets measures get managed
  • The trend is your friend
  • Insight to action

If you would like to read more about these other principles, I have discussed them in my previous blog posts.

When time is so precious, making sure the data that guides us all is of the highest quality is worth the investment.

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