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   Support Planner:  Data analysis

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Initial analysis

The usual variations can be worth considering:
 

  • gender differences
  • age/grade differences
  • number of incidents
  • differences between types
  • changes over time for individuals and various subgroups (gender....)
     

But this raises questions about how standardised the data may be.

Getting quality data

It all depends on how systematic and comprehensive the school has been in
 

  • observing
  • recognizing
  • categorising
  • collecting and
  • entering relevant data
     

It can be important to understand the difference between school level data and data relating to an individual. What is valid in relation to an individual student may not be as valid when consolidated at a school level.

The phenomena involved

The nature of the phenomena involved are not necessarily well understood

  • There is much to be learned about the phenomena that occur within schools. For example, the assumptions that underpin the use of a programs based approach may not be valid
  • How consistent are cause and effect are over time and place for the various phenomena under consideration?
  • Cultural and historical factors can be very significant but may not be directly reflected in the data e.g., in one school a spike in the number of incidents was partially 'associated' with the school having a large number of School Experience placements
  • It appears common for the number of incidents to increase towards the end of term but little is know about what is actually happening in this context
     

This has profound implications for the use of data to make judgements about

  • students needs
  • school issues
  • trends
  • the effectiveness of strategies, that is, achievement, performance

Who should be involved in the analysis

Statistical expertise is very valuable to organise, consolidate and present data. However this cannot be 'outsourced'.  Experience with the Planner shows that schools make much better sense of the data when they are directly involved in the analysis (strong recommended)


 The Planner contains a number of reports that enable users to select and consolidate data in useful ways
 

The need for an ongoing conversation

Analysis of data is a very interesting area of work and needs to be considered at several levels. Properly managed, it could make a profound contribution to the improvement of school decision making. And there will be long term benefits.
 
We are very much at the beginning of such work and there is a long and challenging conversation to be had to improve our understanding of the phenomena with which we are dealing in schools.  For example, the behaviour data are generally record as a single aspect  the overt (usually problematic) actions of particular individual students in relation to specific incidents. Clearly such data represent only a small fraction of the event being 'recorded'. One needs to keep in mind that 'the map is not the territory'.

 

In other words, the task is one of knowledge management working with data  - closely related but differnet endeavours.



 

 

 

Ivan Webb Pty Ltd 2001 onwards