Posts by

Pete Solar

Education, K-12, Opinion

How to Overcome Data Overload to Implement Multi-Tiered System of Supports

Spend Less Time Fact-Finding and More Time Supporting Students

United We Learn is the State of Kentucky’s initiative to propel forward the future of public education in the state, a vision built “around three big ideas: creating a more vibrant experience for every student, encouraging innovation in our schools – especially when it comes to assessment, and creating a bold new future for Kentucky’s schools through collaboration with our communities.” 

To realize this vision, the Kentucky Multi-Tiered System of Supports (KyMTSS) is a multi-level prevention system to support student achievement and social-emotional behavioral competencies through an integration of differentiated core instruction, assessment and intervention.

The purpose of KyMTSS is stated to be to promote “the integration of systems-level approaches and state/district/school initiatives under one comprehensive framework to more efficiently use resources while focusing on improving outcomes for every student.”

That stated vision of equitable access and opportunity is, in fact, the paradigm: one comprehensive framework of six interdependent and interconnected components that are essential to the implementation and sustainability of an effective MTSS framework in Kentucky school districts. 

The challenge is that the current reality of how data is gathered, stored and analyzed has historically been anything but comprehensive, one, interdependent nor interconnected, making the task of effective MTSS implementation arduous, onerous and time-consuming for those responsible for executing this vision. Many districts are, in fact, data-rich…but too many are also tragically knowledge-poor.

This is why the EdTech sector is pushing for greater interoperability and advocating for disparate systems and entities speaking a common data language. This is how we will collaborate to make this critically important initiative a reality, without taxing our resources or monopolizing educators’ time that is better spent on activities other than data mining.

How to Visualize Data to Actualize Outcomes

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has identified six elements as essential to the implementation, improvement and sustainability of an effective multi-tiered system of supports:

  1. Collaborative Problem-Solving Teams (includes shared leadership, collaboration and communication)
  2. Data-Based Decision Making with a Comprehensive Screening and Assessment System
  3. Tiered Delivery System with a Continuum of Supports
  4. Evidence-Based Instruction, Intervention and Supports
  5. Equitable Access and Opportunity
  6. Family, School and Community Partnerships

The first thing that jumps off the page to me are the words “collaborative,” “data-based” and “evidence-based.” We’ve seen firsthand how school districts nationwide struggle to collect and connect all of the various disparate systems and data warehouses that educators and administrators rely on to provide educational excellence and comply with transparency reporting obligations.

The KyMTSS Implementation Guide notes that the systems used for “academic, behavior and social-emotional supports often are implemented in silos or parallel systems that work independently of each other. Each system and initiative might have its own set of teams

doing the work, separate data systems and separate practices,” and recommends “building one coherent, strategically combined system to address multiple domains or content areas in education to achieve and sustain positive outcomes more effectively.” 

It is important to note that, in doing so, districts should “braid” all available data sources, including those proprietary to the district itself, as well as all publicly available data sources. 

What districts are increasingly finding is that events and data that occur outside of the classroom have a significant impact on outcomes that are achieved in the classrooms themselves, especially when it comes to social-emotional learning. Factors such as demographics, geographics, economics, equity of access, and many more contributing factors may have nearly as much influence on learning as curriculum, instruction and quality/training of teachers.

The answer? Seeing is believing. Truly seeing. Correlations that may exist between poverty rates, Internet access, geographical boundaries and student achievement can only be understood if displayed visually and overlaid on one another. A heat map will reveal where at-risk students tend to live, in most cases, and may also reveal some other important interdependencies. But this is not possible to examine if the data remains in silos. Nor is it achievable if it’s only displayed in a columnar table or a spreadsheet. All you see is numbers…when what you are looking for is trends, drivers, and potential causality.

Data must be visualized for better outcomes to be actualized.

Guidelines for Implementing the Six Essential Elements of KyMTSS

A team of data scientists has partnered with educators and administrators to develop a comprehensive resource designed to support districts in implementing Kentucky’s state-required K-12 Multi-Tiered System of Supports. This guide can be used not only as a roadmap to effective KyMTSS implementation, but can unlock a singular system for implementing each of the six essential elements and providing the necessary documentation and reporting.

Examples from each of the six essential elements guidance protocols include:

1 – Collaborative Problem-Solving Teams (includes shared leadership, collaboration and communication)

Build and openly share a dashboard that “helps teams at the district, building, grade and content level to analyze academic, social emotional and behavior data in one, shared online platform.”  (For example, see the Munetrix Early Warning Module.)

2 – Data-Based Decision Making with a Comprehensive Screening and Assessment System

Configure a system so that it can “manage and analyze multiple types of data, including assessment, behavior, social emotional, attendance, demographic, perception, process, and other types of data in one centralized platform. This helps districts ensure that the data is collected, analyzed, and used to monitor both student outcomes and implementation of interventions over time.” This should include:

  • Needs Assessment 
  • Academic and Behavior Data
  • Formative Assessment Data
  • Progress Monitoring Data
  • Demographic Data
  • Student/Family/Staff Survey Data
  • Relevant Community Data
  • Student Early Warning Indicators 

The Munetrix Early Warning Module is a tool designed with all of this in mind…all in one place!

3 – Tiered Delivery System with a Continuum of Supports

Insist on technology that allows stakeholders to “analyze data and trends across various groups and sub-groups to help consider the range of learning needs and assets from accelerated to severe and persistently challenged. Dynamic filters are needed to help educators quickly and easily identify and group students by ability levels within areas of need, across multiple assessments.

4 – Evidence-Based Instruction, Intervention and Supports

Student growth and needs assessment must be supported by an “application that can analyze data to help identify the outcome and fidelity of implementation to monitor the effectiveness of instruction, intervention, and supports.”

5 – Equitable Access and Opportunity

The most effective solutions are ones that “equip district leadership with student and community demographic and socioeconomic data, so that they can ensure that MTSS leadership teams include key stakeholders such as students, family and community partners who are representative of the entire student body and holistic school community.” It should “blend financial and student data (academic/behavior/social emotional) in a single platform to empower district leaders to analyze the data in one place so that they can identify and address inequities of funding, student access to highly effective teachers, high-quality curriculum, school disciplinary practices, or other supportive resources such as technology.”

6 – Family, School and Community Partnerships

Ideally, the “system helps districts form active and reciprocal family, school and community relationships through transparency reporting tools and access to tools to evaluate community socioeconomic and demographic data as well as student, parent and community input or survey data collected through family engagement opportunities.”

Free Template and Resource Guide

If we were to simplify the guidance offered in this document, it would be this:

  1. Get all of your relevant data sets into one system.
  2. Don’t ignore the data outside of your own purview of education and student achievement.
  3. Make sure that data can be visualized, not just tabulated.
  4. Make reporting easy, transparent and intuitive.

Take these simple steps and your district will be well on its way to helping Kentucky realize its vision of “each and every student empowered and equipped to pursue a successful future.”

To download this template for complete and effective KyMTSS implementation, complete with easy guidance on reporting and transparency, click here.

Education, K-12, Opinion

Can Third-Grade Reading Proficiency Be “Guaranteed” in Ohio Public Schools?

Legislators have been working since 2012 to improve literacy outcomes in the state, notably when the state legislature passed the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which required that third-graders pass a reading test in order to be promoted to fourth grade.

Committed to addressing this issue ongoing, educators and administrators in Ohio have implemented and are focusing on a number of strategies to improve third-grade literacy rates and numeracy.

By implementing these strategies, schools are working to ensure that all students have the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. But one area in particular that sticks out to me is this notion of “data-driven instruction.”

Education, K-12, Opinion

How Superintendents Can Simplify Their Tech Stacks

Getting More Done in Less Time with Fewer Tools

Noted political scientist Herbert A. Simon once observed:

“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. 

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. 

Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

Superintendents and other school administrators can no doubt relate. Over the last decade or more, we have gained greater access to information, have an ever-growing stack of tools and information at our disposal and yet we find ourselves so overwhelmed and overworked that we can scarcely make sense of it all…let alone leverage the insights that lurk beneath the surface, hidden from plain sight.

Each passing year or so, without really thinking about it, professionals in every sector (the public and educational included) have incrementally added a tool here, an application there, a system here, a database there. We are now at the point at which enough has become more than enough — it’s become too much.

Now the challenge has become finding ways to do more with less. The forward-thinking among our busiest superintendents are now discovering ways to combine tools, simplify the tech stack, and eliminate multiple — even redundant — tools by combining once disparate systems into more holistic, singular systems that complement each other and work in unison to achieve optimal educational outcomes.

Combine and Contract to Get More Out of Your Technology

As a school district superintendent, you are responsible for the technology that supports much more than only the learning of your students and performance of your staff. The sheer amount of technologies a given administrator must log into and assess at any given time is enormous. Student achievement reporting, learning management systems, budgeting and forecasting software, educator evaluation systems, transparency and compliance reporting, personnel management, project coordination software, school safety drill management systems, time and resource tracking, truancy and attendance, behavior and discipline. I might go on and on and still never even cover them all. This can be a daunting task, as the tech stack for a school district can be complex and ever-changing.

There are many reasons why you might want to simplify your tech stack, and only one among them is to save the obvious time and administrative burden of managing, maintaining and accessing this number of disparate technology tools. Perhaps you are also looking to save money facing budget cuts, or perhaps you want to make it easier for your staff to use the technology in a way that is more clearly and closely tied to measurements of outcomes. Maybe you are looking to improve security or compliance.

Whatever your reasons, there are a few things you can do to simplify your tech stack.

  1. First, take an inventory of all the technology that you currently use. This will help you to identify any areas where you could consolidate or eliminate systems.
  1. Second, consider your needs. What are the essential technologies that you need to support the learning of your students and staff? Once you have identified your needs, you can start to eliminate any unnecessary systems.
  1. Third, look for ways to consolidate systems. For example, you might be able to move all of your student data into a single cloud-based system — including both publicly available peer data as well as your own internal proprietary data. This will make it easier for your staff to access, analyze and leverage the data.
  1. Fourth, consider using a single platform for all of your technology needs. This can make it easier for your staff to learn and use the technology, especially during times of high staff turnover.
  1. Fifth, work with your vendors to simplify your tech stack. Many vendors offer discounts or other incentives for schools that commit to using their products for a certain period of time or the more available options/modules the user elects to activate. Purchasing more from a single vendor may actually reduce cost through the elimination of others.

By following these tips, you can simplify your tech stack and make it easier for your staff to use the technology to support the learning of your students. You will no doubt reduce the burdens of time and employee training, where monetary savings become obvious. In return, both you and your team will have more time and greater bandwidth to focus on what is most critical: elevating educational outcomes.

But that’s only the beginning of the benefit. The true upside is perhaps far less obvious.

The Hidden Benefits of Making the Invisible Visible

One of the most powerful cases for merging technology, simplifying the superintendent’s tech stack, and eliminating costly redundancies is the upshot of what this truly accomplishes. What results is more comprehensive systems that keep all of the important information and data in one location, so that the drivers of success can talk to each other, learn from each other, and be analyzed holistically.

When systems are in silos, your various data systems are keeping secrets from you — and each other. When combined, integrated and overlaid, what often results is that invisible becomes…visible.

We use the term “braiding data,” which is an apt representation of the benefit of such an approach. Individual strings of rope in the physical realm are made much more stronger when braided together than are when used separately and alone. Your data is no different. When intertwined, integrated and interdependent, your various systems become much more than a stack — they become a powerful, complete and cohesive system that honors and accounts for all drivers and outcomes of a school’s or district’s ultimate success.

The Munetrix Enterprise Edition for Schools is an example of just such braided technology that superintendents have at their disposal. The system is a comprehensive, all-in-one solution for school districts looking to create a district-wide culture of community through trust, teamwork and transparency. From financials and transparency compliance to planning and progress reporting, the Munetrix Financial Module features easy-to-adopt and easy-to-use modules that facilitate simpler and more robust forecasting, capital planning and performance management. 

Offered in conjunction with the Munetrix Academic Module, the product offers a comprehensive suite of powerful, interdependent solutions for the whole district, as well as the whole student—taking multi-level, complex data sets and making them simple to understand, report and act upon. The Academic Module provides a full suite of tools single tool that gives superintendents and educators the ability to accelerate academic outcomes and effectively educate and monitor the progress of “the whole student”—academically, emotionally, socially, demographically, and socio-economically—all with a single, easy-to-use interface.

Specific modules address the complete range of a district’s departmental operations, including tools for performance analytics, data visualization, business and process workflows, fiscal wellness, and compliance reporting. Maximizing the product’s interoperability by integrating with a district’s existing systems, the product enables users to quickly and easily harvest and contextualize publicly available data and privately generated data in one powerful combination. 

Users at any level of financial proficiency can use the system to create linear regression budgets in a matter of minutes, as well as multi-year forecasts with multiple scenarios, to assess potential outlooks and plan for the future. Human resources teams can generate multiple reports to better understand performance, staffing trends and costs related to salary and benefits. The system also empowers administrators to compare enrollment trends against staffing trends to easily visualize operational and budgetary status/forecasts. 

Easy-to-use interpretive charts and graphs help policy makers understand the true picture and help auditors in the preparation of “supplemental” reports. 

Best of all, users are able to quickly transform multi-level complex data sets into easy-to-comprehend visualizations in order to provide consistent, relevant and actionable data to stakeholders—leading to greater transparency and collaboration across the district and entire community it serves.

The product saves superintendents hundreds of hours per year, otherwise spent on collecting, aggregating, disaggregating and analyzing data by more traditional methods such as spreadsheets, Google forms, Word documents, etc., stored in multiple, disparate locations, where they are difficult to sort, search and cross-analyze. 

The Munetrix Enterprise Edition for Schools provides schools a unique, holistic platform that empowers districts to analyze all of their data with a single log-in and destination, supporting horizontal succession planning, building institutional knowledge, and facilitating workflow management. 

More transparency. More teamwork and collaboration. Less with more…that is what the modern tech stack looks like for superintendents.Want help simplifying your superintendent tech stack? Contact us for a custom demo of the Munetrix Enterprise Edition for Schools.

Fiscal Health, K-12, Opinion, Uncategorized

Better Data Makes Better Budgets

As we enter budgeting season, finance directors, superintendents and other administrators are facing dilemmas and difficult decisions. Whether trying to prioritize the allocation of stimulus or other surplus funds, or processing the challenging demands of budget cuts, it’s decision time.

The problem we see is many administrators are forced to make difficult decisions with limited data and incomplete information. As we will illustrate, placing unnecessary blinders on your budgeting can lead to incorrect conclusions and potentially misplaced allocations of resources.

Education, K-12, Opinion

How to Align Curriculum and Student Achievement Data to Achieve True Equity in Education

As Michigan curriculum professionals, educators and assessment administrators gather for the annual Michigan School Testing Conference (MSTC), achievement data and equity in education are back in the spotlight. Learn how curriculum can combine with power of academic performance analytics to improve assessment scores, close achievement gaps, and foster equity in education.

Education, K-12, Opinion

Can Curriculum Alone Improve Assessment Outcomes in Michigan? 

As Michigan curriculum professionals, educators and assessment administrators gather for the annual Michigan School Testing Conference (MSTC), achievement data and equity in education are back in the spotlight. Learn how curriculum can combine with power of academic performance analytics to improve assessment scores, close achievement gaps, and foster equity in education.

Education, K-12, Opinion

Is Your “Check Student” Light On?

The earlier signs of student risk can be discovered, the sooner remediation can begin. The sooner interventive action can be taken, the more likely it is to be effective in reversing course. The easier it is to use, the more users will rely on it. Ultimately, the more children we save, the stronger our communities will be and the more fulfilling and impactful our own careers will become. 

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, Municipal, Opinion

The Importance of Communities Speaking a Common Data Language

How to Get Your Community Cooperating, Communicating and Collaborating for Everyone’s Benefit

Remember those famous paintings by Georges Seurat? Seurat used a technique known as pointillism. He and others would paint beautiful landscapes by using a multitude of small dots, carefully placed in harmony to create beautiful imagery. The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones.

What’s interesting about the technique is that, if you look at the paintings too closely, all you see is the dots — mere pixels that don’t amount to much at first glance. It’s not until you step back and look at the literal big picture that you truly understand what you’re looking at.

I use this analogy all the time to illustrate the powers — and the limitations — of data analysis. By examining data at a very granular level of detail, you see something different than when you step back and look at the bigger picture, taking all of the “dots” into account…and connecting them!

Any given data point is like a dot in a pointillist painting. It bears information on its own; but only in context of all of the other data points does it truly have meaning. A community’s “data dots” reveal secrets—micro data sets that each tell their own story. Yet together, they make a bigger picture; as distinct inputs, they stand alone.

The more granular you can get in terms of the insights and data about the neighborhoods and citizens you serve on a daily basis, the easier it is to connect dots, understand correlations and causation, and design programs and plans in the interest of both the individual and the community at large.

How to Paint the Perfect Picture of the Future for Your Community

For this analogy to truly have application in the real world, our communities and the public-sector entities that drive their growth and success need to speak a “Common Data Language.”

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce:

The need for a common data language is analogous to the use of a common language for people and economies to share the best of ideas, products, and services. A language used exclusively by a few isolates people from the rest of what the world has to offer.

So it is with the systems, technology and data used by local governments; schools and districts; fire and police departments; economic planning departments; and state, local and federal entities throughout the public sector. If every system is speaking a different language, they can’t possibly optimally communicate, collaborate or cooperate to the greatest benefit to the communities they serve. But that represents the reality for the vast majority of communities across the U.S. — everyone working on different platforms, speaking different languages, and missing opportunities to optimize planning and future outcomes.

The term frequently used in data and performance analytics to describe the ideal paradigm is “interoperability” — the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information collaboratively. Governing bodies in education and municipal government often set standards and guidelines for interoperability, but they can be difficult and onerous to adhere to, especially for those entities still relying on more primitive data processing systems, such as spreadsheets and legacy databases.

What would this look like in the real world and under the best-case scenario?

  • School district leadership would clearly understand what economic drivers exist between community demographics and student achievement.
  • Economic planners would easily draw causal conclusions about how equity in education and access to technology should shape future planning programs and investments in infrastructure.
  • Financial administrators in school districts could easily overlay public safety data with educational outcomes, to draw potential correlations between community crime and student performance.
  • Economic development professionals would clearly understand the demographics and detailed data about its available workforce, by “braiding” education data with workforce and U.S. Census data, and they could have unfettered access to data visualizations that plainly articulate trends, correlations, causes and effects.

In other words, all of the data points (Seurat’s dots), would work together to paint one clear picture of the past and present, so that leadership and employees in the public sector can access and apply all of the available data and information to their budgeting, planning, programming and overall decision-making processes for the future.

What Does “Braiding Data” Mean?

I mentioned the notion of “braiding” data above. The concept of data braiding is being increasingly used in the data analysis world, in place of bridging or integrating, as it suggests a greater connectivity and higher degree of codependence. 

For example, a school district may consider braiding transparency data with its fiscal data and with student achievement data. Or it may wish to braid academic performance data with fiscal data and economic data. Overall, a community—upon adopting and achieving interoperability and a Common Data Language—can collaboratively “braid” all of their various data feeds. 

Where are the connections? Which is the driver of outcomes, and what data demonstrates the effects of those drivers? The key to this working is to have the ability to combine data sources, then intuitively visualize how various data sets are interdependent and codependent.

I like to say, “Overlay to understand.” Connect dots. Draw more insightful conclusions. Make the invisible visible, and move away from the siloed data sets you are using today toward a more robust and more accurate predictor of community welfare. Making better informed decisions will naturally have a greater impact on your community, but you must be considering all of the available data that paint your community’s pictures, not just the “dots” that are easy to find.

Picture a braided cord, with each strand being a single data stream in your community, from education to economic and from demographic to overall community health. To get started:

  • Partner with the other public-sector entities that serve your community and collaborate to adopt a Common Data Language.
  • Establish and insist on standards of interoperability, so everyone can share, collaborate and communicate for the betterment of every aspect of the community.
  • Make your data intuitive, visual and transparent, so it can be accessed and understood by all stakeholders, from the professional on your team to the layperson resident with no data expertise.
  • Make the first move: Take it upon yourself to be your community’s Common Data Language ambassador and pioneer, as big ideas and bold programs need to be pushed forward, so nobody has to be pulled along grudgingly.

If you’d like to see how all of your community’s data threads can effectively intertwine, how easy it can be to adopt a Common Data Language, and why all of this is so critical to the future of your community, let’s talk.


Education, K-12, Opinion

NAEP Releases “Nation’s Report Card” to Reveal Pandemic-Related Learning Loss

According to the Nation’s Report Card, an annual assessment of student achievement delivered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), reading and mathematics scores declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, something many feared and expected would happen.

According to their 2022 analysis, “Average scores for age-9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.”

Now is our chance to reverse these trends, and get our students back on track.

Education, Fiscal Health, K-12, Municipal, Opinion

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

How to Apply Comparative Analytics to Make Better Decisions and Forecasts

American computer scientist Kurt Bollacker once said that, “Data that is loved tends to survive.”

While many of us might find it difficult to “love” data, it is the lifeline of the organizations we run. Data tells us how we’ve performed in the past, what is likely to happen in the future, and how we can alter the path forward, for better or worse. So while we may prefer to ignore data than love it, we do so at our own peril.

In fact, too often, leaders of public institutions like schools, districts and municipalities either willingly or through benign neglect fail to apply a necessary love of data, and in doing so, fail to maximize the potential to make better decisions and more accurate forecasts.

Too many times, it is tempting to believe that you have all of the data you need, when in reality, there is data out there…keeping secrets from you…causing you to “not know what you don’t know”…and as a result, potentially leading you to draw inaccurate conclusions and make under-informed decisions. Not only can leaders fail to see the big picture, they may be looking at the wrong picture altogether.

After the past two years, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, it’s never been more critical to have the most complete data set possible so that we are making the most informed decisions and the best possible prognostications.

Comparative Analytics and Errors of Omission

The future of planning and budgeting is something called “comparative analytics.” Put simply, comparative analytics refers to the process of examining your own organization’s data and performance against those of your peers and competitors to draw more informed conclusions and to make better decisions. It’s a methodology for avoiding one of the greatest perils to critical decision-making: thinking we have all of the information we need and omitting a potentially decision-changing data set.

The good news: For schools and municipalities, the performance and budgeting data for all of your competitors and benchmarked peers is publicly available. All you have to do is go find it.

If you can view your own historical data and forward-looking projections against those of neighboring entities with whom you may be competing, won’t you be able to make more confident decisions and more strategic allocations of time, treasure and talent? Anything less, and you’re making critical decisions in a vacuum.

To provide just one illustrative example, let’s say you’re examining a school district’s expenditures on instructional investments for the past three years, and the data show that the district is accounting for 10% annual increases in that budget category. Sounds promising. The district appears to be investing in educational outcomes, the chief metric for educational excellence. 

Not so fast. Unfortunately, all that data set provides is an insular, backward-looking reporting of past events — and only the district’s own. Now imagine a scenario in which district leadership could instantly compare their own budget allocations against a neighboring district. Suppose the neighboring district is reporting student achievement data that far surpasses the first district. And then imagine that, through just a few clicks, we can see that the outperforming district is allocating a much larger budget to instructional line items, likely accounting for (at least in part) the better achievement outcomes. Despite the scheduled 10% increases, the spending gap remains large between districts, and so does the disparity in student achievement.

In other words, while District A at first blush appears to be investing in educational priorities, when we look at the big picture, we discover that District B is far outpacing District A in student achievement and taking an entirely different approach to prioritizing instructional spending.

How that might change District A’s assessment of its own budget allocations, and how might that data inform a decision about how to allocate public funding going forward?

Failing to “love” all of the data, in this example, is how an error of omission can quickly lead to errors of commission.

How to Avoid the Most Common “Errors of Omission”

If getting access to the complete set of all available data were difficult, we’d understand why someone might be tempted to take shortcuts or expedite decision making. But practically everything a public employee or leader needs to equip themselves for optimized decision making is publicly available, much of it required by mandate to be made readily accessible. So given that the “secrets” are out there, let’s examine what some of the most common self-inflicted errors of omission tend to be:

(If you would like any of the following reports pulled for your district or municipality and its relevant peers, contact us and we will send you a PDF report within 48 hours at no cost or obligation).

Error #1: Not Going Far Enough Back

The more historical perspective you have, the better you are able to draw conclusions as to what’s driving trends, and what’s likely to change or continue. Too often, data analysts look only one or two years back, when there could be some revelatory trend data hiding in the entity’s more distant past that would prove informative and applicable to the present and the future.

10-year historical analysis

Error #2: Missing the Comparative Intelligence

Looking at your own data only is an error of omission that can, as illustrated above, lead to errors of commission. Here we look at comparative analytics that demonstrate how a sample school district allocates its own budget categorically relative to how all districts within that region do. Now we know if we are overspending, underspending, or misallocating resources, based on how our peers are doing their own budgeting. Look at the disparities and gaps, and consider what that data is trying to tell you.

Budget allocation peer-comparison report

Error #3: Failing to Connect the Dots

How is budgeting data aligned with performance metrics? Isn’t that the key to truly understanding whether our budgeting decisions and forecasts are aligned (or misaligned) with outcomes? With just a few clicks, you should be able to overlay key performance indicators with budgeting inputs to see if you’re getting sufficient return on investment, or whether you need to redirect funds and either double down or reallocate resources.

Overlay data sets to spot trends and performance drivers

Error #4: Not Seeing How Small Data Drives Big Trends

If you’re not examining historically significant data sets, and you’re not comparing both past performance and future forecasting against competitors or peers, you can’t possibly draw accurate correlations and conclusions relative to drivers of big-picture trends. One of the most critical trend data sets for schools and districts, for example, is enrollment. Enrollment data not only reflects success metrics of all kinds, it directly impacts per-pupil funding. The small discrete data points all come together to influence the larger trends we all hold dear and measure ultimate success or failure by. Failure to put the pieces together and see the entire puzzle is perilous, and an unforced error in the modern age.

Data visualizations matched with trend analysis provide a clearer picture yet.

Love the Data that Survives

Perhaps it’s too heavy a lift to expect everyone within leadership at public institutions to truly “love” data. But we do urge that those in positions of critical decision-making at least embrace all that data has to offer…and all that lies in wait to undermine decisions if leaders neglect to listen to the secrets data is keeping from them.

That “loved” data will not only survive, as Bollacker suggests…it will help government institutions thrive.

Unlock the best-kept secrets today! If you would like any of the referenced reports above (or others) pulled for your district or municipality and its peers, contact us and we will send you a PDF report within 48 hours at no cost or obligation.


30-Second Preview of Munetrix in Action:

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