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Superintendent's Note

Improving Our Use of Data at the ESC

Artificial intelligence. Big data. Clustering. Coding. Computer science. Data mining. Deep learning. Univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis. Linear regression. Neural networks.

These and other related terms are growing in use and application all around us. Each is relevant in the rapidly growing fields of machine learning, statistics and data science. And they are quickly becoming more and more relevant in our daily personal and work lives.

Data that forms the basis for these terms and how that data is used is a resource that can no longer be overlooked or ignored by businesses and organizations large or small, whether that be Amazon, a local grocery store, or government agencies. The data are essential for an organization’s business analytics and business intelligence to gain insights into strategic opportunities. Our ESC is no exception.

Planning for the effective management of data is our initial focus, with the goal of developing our capacity to better use data to improve operations and provide more impactful programming and services. We are developing a system to collect, analyze and use data to make better decisions – better decisions that address our work in three ways:

  • Assess and build our organizational data capacity and culture;
  • Develop data models, using both traditional and non-traditional sources, to derive critical insights about student outcomes; and
  • Create a sustainable infrastructure that supports and promotes data utilization across cohorts of ESCs, school districts and community partners.

Thinking systematically about this work here at the ESC may require a bit of a culture change, but nothing with which we aren’t already familiar. We have been using data for years to determine the needs of our districts and schools, as well as our own agency needs, and we will continue to do so. But now we will do so with a much more intentional focus on what data we collect and why. By doing so, the future of the ESC and how we best serve schools and students will be much more clear.

Tom Goodney