Effective use of data is a necessary prerequisite for transforming education agencies and improving student achievement.
There is no shortage of data in our school systems. The greater issue is how to use this data in ways that are practical and significant.
Effective Data Use in Education Systems is an online professional development program for current and aspiring data strategists and analysts working with multiple data sets across schools. Based upon the work of HGSE Professor Jon Fullerton and the Center for Education Policy Research, the workshop provides a toolkit for strategic data use and explores the role of data strategists in that process.
You will examine different ways to conduct data analysis through hands-on experience with a shared example data set and application to your own work. Over the course of six weeks, you will work to identify key sources of data necessary to conduct analysis, clean and connect several large-scale administrative data sets, and analyze these data to examine trends surrounding college-going success. At each step, you will apply these concepts to work in your own work setting. You will also hear from several data strategists about how they address challenges in their work. Throughout the program, you will have access to facilitated question and answer discussion forums and additional resources for further learning and any support needs you may encounter along the way.
The example analysis presented in this program focus on college going success and will help you answer questions such as: How are students in my agency transitioning from 9th grade to 10th grade? and Are they graduating? While this sample data set relates to college going success, much of the work you do will allow you to answer several other types of questions. We encourage you to consider multiple questions that are relevant to your setting and how this online workshop can support your specific work as well.
The resources in this toolkit were generated by the Strategic Data Project (SDP) at Harvard University. SDP believes that if we are able to bring together the right people, assemble the right data, and perform the right analysis, we can help leaders make better decisions — ultimately improving student achievement significantly. To make this happen, SDP pursues three strategies: placing and supporting data fellows in partner organizations who will influence policy at the local, state, and national level; creating policy-and management-relevant analyses for districts and states; and transforming how data is used in the education sector through broad dissemination of analytic tools, methods, and best practices. You can learn more about SDP here.
This six-week online workshop includes a mix of self-paced learning, group discussion, and job-embedded application. Activities include:
- Video lectures from Professor Fullerton and data practitioners
- Assigned readings
- Job-embedded practice where you will apply the concepts and skills learned*
- Facilitated cohort discussions and office hours
A core part of the HGSE experience is cohort learning, and this curriculum is designed to create a community of practice for participants to learn with and from each other.
The online workshop will require 5-7 hours of work per week. Participants who complete all individual assessments and contribute to group discussions will receive a certificate indicating completion of twenty-five hours of instruction.
- Access to statistical software. Statistical packages are the preferred tools to manipulate large, longitudinal datasets. The SDP toolkit presented in this online workshop uses Stata and R as its programming languages. You will be able to follow along using either package.
- A basic understanding of statistics. The current version of the SDP toolkit only requires a basic knowledge of statistics. You should understand mean, mode, median, and standard deviation.
- Optional: Find a data set. If you do not have immediate access to your agency’s data or want to ensure you understand the toolkit before jumping in, we provide data sets for you to download throughout the online workshop. However, you also have the option to use a data set from your own agency to get hands-on experience cleaning, connecting, and analyzing files.
*Note: all content is self-paced, including group discussions. Facilitators will moderate discussion boards throughout the six-week program.
- Participate in hands-on activities to analyze education data of relevance to your agency
- Produce clean data sets
- Produce analytics and visualizations with these data sets
- Workshop challenges for your agency in doing this work
- Begin answering key questions relevant to your agency
Who Should Participate
- Data strategists and analysts working in education organizations, districts, or charter systems
- Other educators who work with data or aspire to work with data at a systems