Step 2: Collecting and Organizing Data
Early in the continuous improvement process, it is essential to identify the data that are relevant to explaining what, why, and how students learn. This step of the process is about identifying where you are in relation to where you want to be as a school, and to make informed, strategic decisions to help you get there.
There are two tasks in this step:
Collecting Relevant Data
Organizing Data for Easy Retrieval
Before you start the improvement process, it is useful to collect the data that you will need to make important decisions. Of course, as you proceed you will discover information you need but getting as much information as you can sets the stage for informed actions. For convenience, we use the term “data” to include evidence and information, not all of which is quantifiable. For example, evidence of student performance can be described in some cases without numbers and descriptions of school programs and policies that might influence student performance are not “data”.
There are four types of data that you will want to have on hand:
1. Student learning and engagement related to priority goals.
2. Student characteristics that might account for differences in student performance.
3. School programs, curricula, processes and policies that influence student learning and engagement.
4. Perceptions of faculty, staff, families and students.
The KEYS survey, and the data collected in connection with its administration, provide some of the information relating to each of these types of data, especially the last three. The survey, and detailed instructions on how it can be used in a school, are provided later in the discussion of Step Two.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by mountains of data. The challenge is to focus on those data that are relevant to explaining what, why, and how students learn and to then organize the data in ways that allow them to be retrieved and applied when problems are be identified, alternative solutions are being explored, and initiatives taken are being formatively and summatively evaluated. This challenge is discussed briefly at this Step and again in later Steps in the KEYS-CSI process.
Note: Click on the links in the left column for an interactive experience with this step of the process, or click the link below to download a Word version of this section.