Measuring What Matters

This post begins our short series about the need to shift the way we look at measurement in schools. The idea of data rich, information poor continues to cloud the conversations around data in schools. More than ever, schools are pounded with fancy data visualizations and dashboards that showcase the same core data that spreadsheets in binders used to showcase. Certainly the move away from raw data to visualized data is a start, but in too many places, it is both the start and finish, leaving schools with what Russell Ackoff refers to as,  “doing the wrong thing more right.”


So what metrics matter? In a day and age where technology eats the budget and pushes teachers and students to teach and learn differently, it seems like having a metric that measures the impact of technology integration on learning over time would be an important set of data. This data set could move conversations from how we consume technology, to how we support students with the environment needed to create, make, and design with technology.


How about data that identifies which students are at risk of dropping out while elementary school with true accuracy? As educators, we know that metrics that can bring the right interventions to the right kids as early as possible are the most cost effective and impactful on the overall system. This same metric set could also show the impact of interventions in a way that very few pieces of data currently can.

Finally, leadership matters. In too many schools, we fail to measure the growth of leadership over time. The conversations that are possible when leaders focus their growth in areas that matter for learning are amazing. Balanced Leadership is a research-based methodology that can help leaders grow and show growth in their work. These are the metrics that matter, and the metrics that build capacity in an organization in need of growth and change in the evolving landscape of education.