As the digitisation of school records and classroom education increases, it is expected that new technologies will revolutionise traditional educational practices. Teachers, school administrators and even parents are now equipped with a variety of solutions to help them make more intelligent decisions across different school areas from finance and asset allocation to students’ personal and academic development.

Thanks to technology, data relating to academic records, demographics, attendance, participation and student behaviour and performance are already being leveraged by schools in order to gain actionable insights into the factors impacting student progress and achievement. This enables teachers to adapt their programs and track their effectiveness, and school administrators to make financial and planning decisions with greater precision.

Tests such as NAPLAN and HSC exams, for instance, are generating vast amounts of data that can bring insights into academic performance and can be broken down by individual student, school and region categories and more. Australian schools with integrated digital solutions are not only using data to improve academic performance, student care and attendance rates, but also to improve operational efficiency, while reducing expenditure.

For instance, through leveraging data insights via state-of-the-art web-based school management systems, financial officers are able to create time and cost efficiencies across operations, teachers can access reporting and other functionalities at any time, from any device, and parents can now track their child’s attendance and performance records from any location.

Making data-based decisions

As educational institutions increasingly realise the importance of data collection and management in making informed and evidence-based decisions, collecting data for the sake of compliance has now evolved to a stage where schools are using it to enable continuous improvement of the staff and student community. By collecting and analysing data, schools can provide actionable insights into optimal teaching practices and overall operations.

Catholic Education Northern Territory (CENT) is a great example of an education provider using data insights to enable intelligent decision making and drive student progress. The organisation has developed an application in partnership with SRA Information Technology, called Attendance Management Map Application (AMMA).

The AMMA is the first application developed specifically to combat truancy in remote communities and works by allowing users to confirm student attendance in real-time, map follow-up routes, improving efficiency and resulting in increased attendance levels.

The app is expected to evolve whereby it can provide unique insights into student absentee patterns and trends, and the relationship between attendance rates and grades, to achieve greater student attendance compliance or improvement.

Ensuring data accuracy

While many organisations have recognised the importance of data analysis, a key challenge lies in compiling and analysing the data to create actionable insights. The rapid adoption of education technologies has resulted in a fragmented data landscape, as unprecedented amounts of data are collected from various sources.

With so many data sources, the existence of incomplete and duplicate data sets is a major issue as it hinders the decision-making process by creating inaccuracies. Data accuracy is integral in providing precise, reliable and timely information for key stakeholders.

Hence, it is important for educational institutions to store and track data within a web-based, single interface system. The advantage of a singular, web-based system is that data can be captured accurately and analytics can be extrapolated automatically, allowing staff to invest more time into the decision-making processes. An integrated software platform also allows for information to be arranged and collated more efficiently.

For example, CENT recently deployed Civica’s education solutions in order to unify its data into a single database. This has enabled the organisation to simplify security, reporting, data warehouse integration and system administration. The whole solution is offered through a modern web-based enterprise application, covering multiple schools across the state.

Due to the rise of digital technology within the education sector, the decision-making process of school teachers and administrators will change significantly. Technology not only has the potential to improve individual school results and attendance, it also has far reaching consequences in terms of providing data geared at improving operational efficiency. Digital technology will ultimately provide access to data and reveal insights that were not previously available.