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4 Data Visualizations that Remove Barriers Between Data and Action

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June 13th, 2019

In a previous BI Tool post, I highlighted some of the data visualizations that can be automated—and how they can save educators countless hours of time. I asked this question: If you can build a report that saves people time, is there any better outcome?

I thought I’d expand on that idea a bit. Really, the power of great data visualizations isn’t just about giving educators time back in their day (although that’s a huge piece). It’s also about the fact that they eliminate barriers many educators face in turning data into action. Visualizations not only add a key tool, but they also remove roadblocks and challenges that can otherwise prevent data-driven decision-making.

Logistics & Time Barriers

First, data visualizations have the power to give immediate answers to some of our toughest, most complex questions.

We’ve all seen the research about how visualizations make data easier and faster to understand. But beyond that, data visualizations can also do the heavy lifting for some of the multi-measure data analysis educators need.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the work of gathering, hand-entering, triangulating, and double-checking data bogs educators down—and makes data-informed decision processes time-consuming, frustrating, and confusing. Good data visualization programs have the ability to handle advanced logic, calculations, and weighting across many data sources and points, and return a straight-forward, actionable answer.

Data Culture Barriers

Second, customized data visualizations can be catalysts for growing your data culture—organically and with true buy-in.

Educators are making their data-driven decisions in the context of their school or district: their systems, their assessment practices, their terminology, and their students. If educators need to mentally translate what they see on the visualization into what it means in terms of their work, it becomes a barrier—one that leads to frustration and fatigue, I might add.

When data visualizations answer your exact questions by displaying the data your staff needs, exactly the way they need them, using the precise language, colors, and format that your staff is already familiar with, that visualization removes a barrier that can otherwise snowball against your data culture. Not only are staff more likely to use the data visualization in their work, but they’ll probably be more open to relying on data in the future. Data cultures sometimes blossom out of a single, key report.

4 Data Visualizations Every District Needs

I’ve worked with hundreds of districts nationwide. While no two school districts are the same, there are certain types of data visualizations I’ve found to be fairly common among them. Here are 4 data visualizations to consider setting up for your team—if you haven’t already—in order to give educators time back in their day and remove barriers between turning data into action.

1) Custom Student Profile

This is the kind of report staff members can bring to any meeting that discusses a student’s needs. It brings together whole child data in one place—from demographic and program information to achievement data to SEL and behavior data. Critical for MTSS teams.

2) On Track & Early Warning System Reports

The ability to quickly and accurately interpret which students are and are not on track or at-risk has only become more important in the context of MTSS. Plus, a single district may be tracking at-risk status in a variety of different ways. Setting up dedicated visualizations and reports are a game-changing piece for MTSS teams, principals, guidance counselors, and other data teams.

3) Course Recommendation Reports

Reports that weigh your course criteria (from unique assessments and programs) and return results in your course catalog’s terms are essential for scheduling. They return easy-to-understand placement recommendations, ready for review and approval.

4) EL (English Learner) Reclassification & RFEP (Reclassified Fluent English Proficient) Monitoring Reports

Ensure that English Language Learners are reclassified when they are ready–and, that each learner is given responsive, timely supports throughout their learning journey.

Illuminate supports districts nationwide in making data visualizations that answer the right questions in the right way—and are instantly understandable to the right audience. Reach out today to learn more.


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1 Comment

  1. Chris Moggia on June 13, 2019 at 11:28 am

    One of the best articles on the “real” application of data visualization I’ve read. Thanks Franck. I especially appreciative of the idea of “essential” reports. I think these should actually have standard names or ID #’s, much like tax return forms do. We easily identify the difference between the 1040, the 1040EZ, and the 1099 forms, right? But in education, we often have no continuity across districts (or even across schools in the same district) about what information to “bring to the table” when discussing student work. Should we call the custom student profile the “101” report? Now, ask your district, what is our version of the “101” report?

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