inSchool Solutions

 School Improvement:  Data
Working Together Easier First Implementation Action Plan Imperatives About RPS


Site Index

Other topics




More on this topic

Data Examples

Data is an aspect of knowledge. It is about 

  • what is happening
  • what is 'supposed' to be happening
  • how this is changing over time

Reality is what we are dealing with. Collecting data is an attempt to capture basic aspects of reality. Data processing is about using this data to achieve the 

  • information, 
  • knowledge 
  • and wisdom necessary to make the best responses.  

The best data is both current and local. For this reason there are no universal responses or answers. 

What data? There is a real dilemma for schools when it comes to identifying the data that might be collected. Each dot point and most sentences in this website are about the reality of schools and as such represents a potential focus for data collection and processing.  The reality in which  schools operate is large and complex. This is why a systems approach is so important: it offers a way to see through the complexity. This can lead to error if one is not mindful of Einstein's admonition:

"Simplify as much as possible but NOT on bit more"

Answers & Responses have to be generated locally. It is the local reality that with which we are dealing .

Policy is a course of action developed from a general notion of reality tempered with various ideals. This general notion is best captured as a set of principles. Good policy is also based on the availability of the appropriate and reliable tools to deal with the reality.  This is the reason the 'quality movement' has been strong in focusing on tools. And many of the tools are data management tools, in short,

Policy = Principles + Tools (for dealing with reality)

  • Principles without tools are often a burden to those expected to enact them.
  • Tools without principles are open to being used (intentionally or otherwise) to perpetrate serious abuses.
  • Regulations are often simply imposed requirements without regard to either principles or the tools to deal with actual reality. They may be simply good ideas beyond the capacity of the system required to enact them.

Acquiring data  What process is used to acquire each kind of data as follows (give an example of each)

  • counts
  • measurements
  • ratings
  • perceptions
  • opinions
  • hearsay and/or gossip

Indicate the level of reliability of each.

Data, Quality & Rating Scales

Quality is that which is delightful to the recipient, hence, quality is judged by the recipient in relation to his/her expectations.  

Any rating scale developed to gather data on quality must begin with the expectations of the recipient or observer.  Each rating can be matched with an appropriate descriptor & response

Example of a quality rating scale

Riverside Primary School uses a four point rating scale adapted to gather, record & report data on everything from learning outcomes to playground experiences

  1. Exceeds expectations: 'Great, enjoy'
  2. Meets expectations: 'OK, go on.'
  3. Some concerns: 'Not so good, needs ..'
  4. Serious concerns: 'Get help now!'

Exercise Create a quality rating scale

  1. Choose a focus, eg, Staff Performance
  2. Create a rating scale, eg, 1 to 4
  3. For each rating (1 to 4) design/define
    • the observer's feeling to each rating
    • a descriptor of each rating
    • the appropriate action for to take eg, = serious concern consistently failing in many required areas; instigate grievance or inability procedures ...

Next Example  See also