Especially since the advent of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, schools around the country have been paying closer attention to their standardized test scores, their strengths, and their opportunities for improvement. As part of this growing emphasis on the big picture and on hard numbers, many schools have displayed a school data board prominently in a front lobby of the school or other well-trafficked area.

 

There are a number of benefits to displaying a school data board:

 

  • Parents and other visitors can learn more about the school when they visit and see the school’s dedication to improving their levels of achievement.
  • The data boards can act as a daily reminder of overarching goals to teachers, staff, students, and administrators.
  • The data board can summarize and illustrate results in a way that is easy to analyze and comprehend.
  • The data boards unite the entire school with a common goal for improved achievement.

 

When displaying a school data board, consider the following:

 

  • Don’t make your front lobby all about the numbers. Learning and achievement have many faces – and certainly all that is accomplished at your school is not included in graphs and percentiles. Be sure to also decorate your front lobby with student art, pictures of students in actions, and other less quantitative school accomplishments.
  • Include a list of goals along with your data. Data can be interesting, but you also want your school community to know what you are striving for in the future. Make sure not all of your goals are related to assessment.
  • Make your data board easy to read and easy to understand. Numbers can be dry, but some large, simple charts, graphs, and color printouts can make understanding the numbers more straightforward.
  • Summarize the main points. Analyze the data for your visitors with a run-down of what your numbers mean and how your school is performing. Include information about how your school is fairing and if you have seen improvement over previous years.
  • Include data from self-studies. If your school has conducted its own research, share that along with other numbers and demographic information. The more data you can share, the better.
  • Unveil the board in a ceremony. You’ve probably discussed the contents of your data board extensively at school board meetings, but having a presentation of the school data board separately can expose the information to new people. You can even make the event part of a regular open house night or parents’ night.
  • Don’t limit the school data to a single place! To share the school’s data with as many people as possible, make it available in as many ways and places as possible. In addition to displaying the data in a school lobby or common area, make steps to display the goals and information on the school website or in a school newsletter.