Data analysis can also help teacher performance

With so many ed-tech tools and platforms collecting data, data analysis has become an integral part of improving student performance. A recent example would be Duval County in Florida, where a school district used metrics like attendance and test scores to flag at-risk students and boost graduation rates. Expert panelists in a session at the AWS IMAGINE 2022 education conference in Seattle this week turned the idea of ​​data analytics in schools upside down, saying the real untapped potential lies in using data to improve teacher performance.

Panelists for a session titled “Improving Student Outcomes with Better Data Sources” included Dan Ralyea, director of research and data analytics at the South Carolina Department of Education, and the Chief of Staff Michael McAuley of Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida. Both Ralyea and McAuley believed that students succeed because of teachers.

“We need to empower teachers and school districts,” Ralyea said during the session, which was moderated by AWS Principal Solutions Architect Kevin McCandless. “Everything we look at is infrastructure. I’m talking about building routes in a way that allows every teacher, and by extension every student, access to a high-quality, integrated data system.


McAuley echoed those sentiments, but focused more on the need for data to better understand what would help adults in the classroom.

“(We analyze data like) what kind of adults do we have in front of the kids? What do we know about those adults in terms of the number of years of teaching experience, the number of years in that school, in this area, in this class. Things that we’ve never really looked at very closely, historically,” McAuley said.

McAuley added that his school district, which is among the largest in the nation, is looking for ways to use this information to match teachers and their skills to student needs. He said few systems are set up to do this because the datasets are disconnected from each other.

“Once we start looking at how these things connect to each other, we can better understand what to put in front of kids, strengthen our workforce, and make it a better overall experience,” a- he declared. “(Education) is really about adults. If I can take care of adults and give them the tools they need, I don’t have to worry about children.

As for how to implement the solutions sought by companies like the South Carolina DoE and Hillsborough County Public Schools, companies like Innive or the nonprofit Education Analytics have stepped in to help. Other panelists included Innive CEO Gautham Sampath and Education Analytics CEO Andrew Rice. Sampath said the challenge he sees is getting schools out of siled data systems so all educators understand students. Rice said the best way to implement data is through modern cloud technology.

“Once the barrier of technology is gone, which is kind of where we are, then you get to the real work of governance, privacy, security and usability,” said Rice, whose nonprofit has partnered with the state of South Carolina to create a data system. statewide infrastructure, said.

With data, especially in the K-12 space, privacy is always a concern. Overall, panelists believe that storing information in a cloud-based system is the safest way to keep it secure. Secure data storage then allows school districts and state school boards to focus on gathering information to propel their students to better outcomes.

“The ability to take advantage of advances in technology, we’re compelled, if not outright compelled, to understand that for the kids in front of us,” McAuley said. “Because if we don’t, they are the only ones to suffer.”

Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional football during his 15+ year journalism career. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.

See more stories by Giovanni Albanese