BeginDiscoverDesignDevelopResourcesXQ INSTITUTE


45 states publicly report postsecondary enrollment data by high school, and 24 include that information on easy-to-find “school report cards” required under federal law.

Source: Data Quality Campaign.

Once you’ve defined what success means for your school, you’ll need to find ways to measure whether you’re achieving it. You can start by looking at the kinds of data your state and district publish, such as rates of college entry and persistence. Then you can seek out additional sources and strategies.

For example, how will you get a clear picture of students’ social emotional learning? What combination of teacher judgment, student surveys or self-assessments, and common assessment tools will provide the information you need?

A Note on Social Emotional Learning

We know that social emotional learning, or SEL, is an important dimension of positive youth development, but we also know that our understanding of SEL is still evolving. More research is needed on how students develop SEL skills and capacities, and how growth in those areas can be assessed and reported in meaningful ways. For educators, it’s also important to remember that, for SEL measurement to be fair, schools need to develop and ensure that all students have access to high-quality SEL learning experiences.

As you identify possible measures and assessment strategies, remember that multiple measures provide richer information than isolated ones—the kind of information that can spark meaningful insights into why a particular student is struggling, what steps you can take to make sure all students are on track to qualify for advanced courses, and countless questions in between.

For example, at Bronx Arena, a New York City high school for overage, undercredited students, a school dashboard provides teachers with regular updates on two types of data: student attendance and student “output,” or completion of the school’s expected average of five learning tasks per day. If a student’s productivity drops, a teacher can instantly see attendance information before reaching out to talk to the student about where the problem lies and how academic or social-emotional supports might help.

Students themselves are often the best source of information, especially when they have access to meaningful data and are integral to school decision making and improvement. Reflecting on the work of the school redesign team at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts in Providence, Rhode Island, principal Andy McMannis explains that “the most important members of our critical conversations were the students, as they were involved in the process the whole time. If you really want to change your school, show the data to your students and let them confirm it’s true”—even when what they have to say is uncomfortable.

Dive Deep

  1. students together
    Everything Is Measurable

    To understand what’s happening inside a school and make real improvements, school leaders need to look across multiple measures.

  2. a teacher smiling
    Explore SEL

    How can a school define and measure social emotional learning? Harvard’s “Explore SEL” website compares different approaches.

  3. student smiling
    “Street Data” for Educational Equity

    This framework from Shane Safir illustrates the role of data across three levels: the more familiar “satellite” and “map” data, and what she calls “street data,” which emphasizes the voices of students.

  4. student smiling
    Non-traditional Metrics

    A case study and video from The Learning Accelerator shows how educators at Bronx Arena use multiple measures to understand student progress.

Get Stakeholder Survey Worksheet