Data and Statistics for Administrators: Charting Your School’s Progress
In the world of big data, interpreting and analyzing schools’ data and statistics proficiently can help administrators chart their schools' progress and reach mission-driven goals. In the classroom, Montessori teachers engage in ongoing formative assessment to guide students toward the next appropriate lesson. Meanwhile, administrators must combine a school’s classroom data with schoolwide data to recognize patterns and trends. With this information they can understand their individual school’s progress within the larger context of education.
An administrator’s knowledge of their school’s population will inform decisions in data collection techniques. For instance, a school with two programs, Infant & Toddler and Early Childhood, will want to track whether they retain five-year-olds through kindergarten. If most of their students matriculate into the public system, review of the current curriculum and marketing strategies will be the next step. At the same time, schools with Elementary or Secondary programs must consider whether or not to participate in standardized testing with dual goals: to track students’ academic achievements and to prepare students for public education systems. In both instances, administrators work to balance school retention needs alongside the preparation of students who will be leaving for other school systems.
Data and Statistics Strategy
In order to decide what data and statistics will be most useful for a school, administrators will need to talk with stakeholders or board members. Federal and state educational requirements will have to be considered, too. At the end of this process, administrators will have a list of what to track and then must decide how to collect it. The overall data should illustrate a school’s progress both academically and administratively. Reviewing collection strategies at the end of each year will allow administrators, teachers, and stakeholders to approach data collection holistically. Processes can be revised for efficiency and simplicity, and specific questions can be created to pinpoint program weaknesses.
Know Your Mission
Nonprofit and for-profit schools do not have the same governmental requirements, although both types of Montessori schools often have similar mission statements based on Maria Montessori’s philosophy. A clearly written school mission statement is a guide for administrators to create data collection structures that will assist in tracking how well their schools’ mission is being supported. Moreover, data collection can be designed to provide evaluations of how well a school’s vision statement is being fulfilled. The vision statement is usually more goal-oriented than a mission statement. Vision statements can be evaluated as schools reach goals. Parent surveys combined with other data, like in-class observations, create a powerful illustration of how well the vision is being sustained.
Marketing and Public Relations
How schools use data for marketing will depend very much on stakeholder or board preferences. Some schools use data-driven approaches to promote their schools and advertise student academic accomplishments. Other schools choose to use more anecdotal data gathered from alumni surveys. Either way, a well-structured data collection system will assist in gathering the information needed to support marketing strategies.
In-house data can reveal weaknesses and strengths in curriculum or specific programs. Administrators or stakeholders might decide to compare their data to public sector data for a broader context of their schools' performance. This data will recognize either the health of curriculum and procedures or not. By tracking specific programs and methods a picture of a school’s progress will emerge. Thus, administrators can confidently rate their school as meeting or falling short of its mission. After all, this is the underlying concept that supports many schoolwide decisions.
Serving students and families is the first priority for administrators. This attention assures that students are supported in their future academic endeavors. Balancing the needs of students and the necessities of state and federal requirements, as well as meeting the expectations of parents is a complex task. However, with a collaboration by administrators, teachers, and stakeholders, schools can examine their data collection approaches effectively and revise them speedily. With a vast body of research already supporting the Montessori Method, schools can continue to add more statistics to a most valued approach to alternative education.
About the Author
V. Kulikow is a former Montessori teacher and youth services librarian. She currently works as a UX designer and enjoys content creation both with words and images. On weekends you can find her gardening, taking nature photos, and working on her garden design certification through the Native Plant Trust.