If your school district serves 2,500 students or fewer, you’re far from alone. In fact, about 70 percent of public school districts in the United States are this small. Private schools are often even smaller, with the vast majority of them serving 300 students or fewer.

While much has been said about the important role of student data in big schools, it’s essential to highlight the ways big data can help smaller schools. Principals in these schools should learn what big data is, understand which types of data to collect, and consider the challenges they face in gathering big data.

Using Data to Empower Educators

In particularly small schools, principals may feel like they know everyone in town. After all, the idea of living where everyone knows one another is part of the appeal of living in a small town. Using big data can seem impersonal to some people, especially to principals who pride themselves in knowing each student by name.

The reality is that school districts already collect data in many important ways. When administrators pour over the results of benchmark tests to determine how students will do on the standardized test, this is a form of data collection and analysis. Using this data effectively can change both funding levels and student success.

The good news is that data collection and student connection can work together. With the right software, principals can access the information they need from big data and use it to connect with individual students and engage with the community. For example, if a student starts missing an unusual number of days, great software will alert administrators. Educators can then reach out to the student and family to understand what is happening.

As in this example and many more, data is so much more than a collection of numbers in a computer program. When the software you use is accessible, accurate, and timely, you can use it as a tool to get to know your students, staff, and faculty.

What Types of Data Should Your District Collect?

As of May 2018, 90 percent of all the world’s data had been generated in the two years prior. It’s safe to say that the amount of data in the world is expanding rapidly. As such, all kinds of organizations can access more data, including schools.

As a busy principal, you need to prioritize the types of data you collect and focus on what matters most. So what should small schools focus on? The same data as big schools, including:

  • Attendance
  • Test Scores
  • Effect of Instructional Methods
  • Teacher Training
  • Discipline
  • Student Behavior
  • Teacher-Parent Communication
  • Grades

Each of these data points can help school officials and teachers keep track of what’s happening with each student.

Can Your School Afford Big Data?

If there are two things that principals in small schools could always use more of, they are time and money. All-in-one school data software can give you more of both.

You may look at the list of information you need to collect and wonder how you will find the time to mine all that data. The good news is that a great school software program can actually save you time, rather than take away from it. Not only will it collect this information for you automatically, but programs like SchoolStatus make your data easy to read.

You can also use the same system for things like parent-teacher communication and staff management. These features make your school more efficient, saving everyone time on their daily tasks.

Has cost always been a barrier to data collection? It can be expensive to install several different programs and train the faculty and staff on each one. All-in-one solutions allow schools to simplify their budgets and training time.

“Data” doesn’t have to be a bad word. Contact SchoolStatus today to learn how big data can help your small school.