Back-to-School Data Wins: Tip #2 Build in Data Literacy Basics

Hopefully you learned about how to get a good start to the school year with clean data from last week’s Back-to-School Data Wins Tip #1 Clean Slate with Clean Data.

Tip #2: Build in Data Literacy Basics

This week we’re focused on data literacy basics.  We can’t assume that everyone in the room is immediately familiar with a scale score…or even a small n-size. Set your entire team up for success by building in data literacy instruction that helps make insights clear to all.

  • Choose intuitive systems. You can make a big difference from the beginning by picking displays that feel natural on sight. For example, anyone in the U.S. is likely to understand “stoplight colors”: green for at grade level or above, yellow for at-risk, and red or pink for below grade level. 
  • Create intuitive reports. If you’re designing  homemade visualizations, make it clear which information they display, what they’re used for, and what data points indicate. For example, label reports with the questions they answer (e.g. “how many students in each grade were absent this week?”)
  • Scaffold data interpretation. During data days, meetings, or presentations, demonstrate what you see in the data, what you conclude, and what questions you’ll ask as a result. Then transition to an analysis tool like the 8 Essential Questions. It’ll help your team develop a curious attitude about data.
  • Differentiate instruction. Just as with students, adults don’t learn in the same ways. So offer information in different forms: consider live trainings, staff portals, office hours, support lines, or a help email.  The easier you make it for all learners to improve their data use, the more they will.