School districts, with all their stakeholders and competing priorities, develop comprehensive strategic plans to help drive the organization forward in a unified way. A school district will gather all pertinent information, develop, and clearly state its strategic plan. Once the mission is analyzed, and goals are defined, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) can be identified to aid the district in measuring their activities against the stated goals.
Key Performance Indicators are critical success factors identified by a school district for measuring various data points with the intent of accomplishing progress towards set goals. KPIs help to analyze success factors in order to prepare a proper course of action. KPIs should give districts the necessary information presented in a clear, workable, and simple way. Gaining consensus from stakeholders on the appropriate indicators to meet goals is often the greatest challenge. Although this step may be difficult, it is necessary so that datapoints can be decided upon for measurement and analysis.
The district may determine to identify datapoints to reduce the achievement gap. Examples of datapoints might include information gathered from a student information system such as gender, race/ethnicity, and student attendance rates. Additional information to gather as data from the district’s ERP system could include teachers’ salaries, years’ of experience, and leave of absence records, as well as budgetary information. Test scores are likely to be gathered by a third-party system. Gathering all this information from such diverse applications, into a format that is concise and easy-to-understand can be a daunting task. That’s where the value of a Business Intelligence system can bring it all together.
The Value of Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence (BI) enables instant visibility into volumes of data from a multitude of systems. Even if data lies within a single system, it may be held in various departments of the school district. In a BI environment, all disparate data can be brought together and presented in a clear and concise way, thereby developing it in a way to help the organization align towards its key objectives. It is a tool that can help monitor and assess the level of KPIs and evaluate if they are being met. What is just as important to aligning data towards key objectives is the need to present information in way that is understandable, relevant, and consistent. An effective BI solution allows efficient collection and distribution of data that crosses departmental/school lines and is consistent for unified decision making. It is accurate and real-time, ensuring all decisions can be made both quickly and based on factual data. In order to present KPIs in a meaningful way, should be done so in both a quantitative and qualitative form. Having information that is fast, relevant, fact-based, and understandable enables the key decision makers to move the school district towards meeting the goals of the organization.
About the author:
Linda Visnick has 30 years’ experience in the business of education. She has led school districts at the executive level working in various positions including Assistant Superintendent, Business Services and Executive Director at the county office of education level. She has been responsible for all aspects of business during her tenure as well as fiscal oversight and the implementation of a new business administrative system touching 55 local educational agencies, 350,000 students, and 72,000 employees. She brings experience working with school boards, superintendents, community groups, unions, and city councils. In her role as Director, Education Sector she is responsible for providing support to current and future educational clients; build partnerships with educational organizations; and work with executive leadership to review specific areas of need.