Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Schools must use data effectively to improve outcomes

Published:Monday | March 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM

SCHOOL-MANAGEMENT experts say institutions, especially those cited as underperforming, have to do better at effectively managing data if they are to improve outcomes.

The experts aligned with the Ministry of Education and who are consultants to the JN Foundation's iLead educational leadership programme made the comments during a recent workshop in Port Maria, St Mary, put on by the iLead project team for leaders at secondary schools, which are participating in the initiative, as well as the education ministry's Region Two education officers. The high schools currently under the programme are Brimmer Vale and Islington in St Mary, and Robert Lightbourne in St Thomas.

data-based decisions

Addressing principals, vice-principals and education officers, Dr Maurice Smith, principal of the National College for Educational Leadership, said data have to be at the centre of all decisions if school leaders are serious about improving performance and running effective institutions. He says leaders cannot make decisions based on anecdotes and feelings.

"When making decisions for everybody, somebody is going to be uncomfortable. Therefore, you have to ensure that you make decisions based on the data you have ... . When you are making a decision, look at all the information you have to make that decision. If tomorrow, newer information becomes available that would make you revise the decision you made yesterday, that's fine, but you can't make decisions in a vacuum," Smith stressed.

"We can't make decisions based on who we like and who we think is with us or not with us, and perceptions. The information has to be anchored in something," he stated.

The educational leadership expert noted that the use of data was not for principals and vice-principals alone, but the entire school leadership, underscoring that data were particularly important to the decisions made by heads of departments in schools and even education officers.