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Ohio Data Primer

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Module 2: Tutorial—Where Have We Been? Where Do We Want to Be?

Schools are variable. Instruction is complex. Students move. Teachers retire. Using just one or two numbers to summarize their accomplishments is unlikely to reflect reality well.

Schools must improve. Teachers continually seek ways to teach more effectively. If life in schools is multifaceted, monitoring instructional improvement will require multiple data points and it will be necessary to interpret the patterns of the numbers that describe these data points.

Visuals that show the flow of time and simultaneously disaggregate data beyond simple percentages must balance simplicity and complexity reasonably well. Tracking the path of where we have been to where we are going permits the telling of stories of success and, unfortunately, of failures. But either story, if it includes sufficient detail, contains within it the lessons that tell us what worked and what did not. Those lessons are important ones to learn: only by monitoring our data closely can we demonstrate our successes empirically and thereby construct new stories—ones that explan why what we do works so well.

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