Why Are Data Important?

“We looked at all the school’s data – comprehensive demographic data gave us the context of how our population was changing, which told us we had to change our strategies and services or we would never get all students proficient; perceptions data allowed us to hear from the students and parents about how better to meet their needs; perceptions data from staff revealed what it would take to change teaching strategies and get all staff working “on the same page”; student learning results, disaggregated in all ways, told us where we did not have instructional coherence and which students were not reaching. We realized we had very little school processes data – the data that measure our instructional processes and programs. Looking at all the data gave us a reality check about where our school was, not just where we thought it was.” Marylin Avenue School. From Bernhardt, V. L. (2009) p.9

Moving from Data to Knowledge

Data: Factual information gathered as evidence for a research study. “Data are objective facts, presented without any judgment or context. Data becomes information when it is categorized, analyzed, summarized and placed in context.”

Information: “Information, therefore, is data endowed with relevance and purpose. Information develops into knowledge when it is used to make comparisons, assess consequences, establish connections, and engage in a dialogue.”

Knowledge: “Knowledge can, therefore, be seen as information that comes laden with experience, judgment, intuition, and values.”

Empson Laura. (2000) The challenge of managing knowledge. In Financial Times, Mastering strategy: Your single-source guide to becoming a master of strategy. Pearson. pp. 377-396.

Three Types of Knowledge

The National College of School Leadership has defined three fields of knowledge that have informed its work in leadership development and professional learning.  

Guidelines for dialogue on evidence/data

  1. Using multiple sources of data
  2. Analyze the data in context
  3. Data are meaningless without informed interpretation

How to Access Data and Information Collected by the Ministry and Other Resources

DEMOGRAPHIC data – gives us the context of how our population is changing, e.g.,

PERCEPTIONS data – allows us to hear from students, parents, and staff, e.g.,

STUDENT LEARNING data – provides a ‘snapshot’ of student results, e.g.,

PROCESSES data – measures instructional processes and programs, e.g.,