Buried Treasure: Developing a Management Guide From Mountains of School Data

January 2005

This report provides a practical discussion of what is required to develop a school district management guide, along with an actual guide built on evidence-based indicators. It begins with an imaginary discussion at Rebel Valley School District, during which a new superintendent leads his board through the guide.

Indicators are discrete pieces of information, like water temperature or the Dow Jones Average, designed to alert leaders and members of the public about what is going on in large, complex systems. To be effective, indicators need to be very powerful in terms of the quality of data, the utility of the information they provide, and their ability to communicate something important and meaningful.

The seven school-level indicators discussed in this paper are a solid jumping off point for any district. Although these indicators are well grounded in research and experience, each district will have to decide for itself the extent to which any (or all) of these seven measures fit its particular needs and circumstances.

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