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Analyzing Data & Assessing Local Needs Transcript

Transcript of the video presented by the California Department of Education.

The following is a text transcript of the Analyzing Data and Assessing Local Needs video, as presented by the Student Achievement and Support Division, formerly named the Improvement and Accountability Division, of the California Department of Education.

Video Starts

Welcome to the Quality Schooling Framework—also called the QSF. The California Department of Education developed the QSF to assist educators as they work to ensure that the students in their schools are learning and thriving. This module describes methods of analyzing data and assessing local needs as part of the planning cycle.

The QSF video for Developing Effective School and District Plans describes the various roles of parents, students, teachers, administrators, the local school board and community members in creating and implementing school plans. All members of the school community must have appropriate access to school and district data to effectively fulfill these roles in the development, implementation and accountability for local plans.

Schools and districts generate a lot of data – but using these data to improve student achievement can be a daunting task. A systematic approach to selecting, organizing, and analyzing data will help prevent data overload.

To select the right data for the needs assessment, start by reviewing local priorities. For example, the local school board may be concerned about safety issues, elementary schools may have recently begun a new early literacy program, or the district may be supporting a new state and federal emphasis on college and career readiness.

With these local priorities in mind, determine the questions on which the needs assessment will focus. The focus questions will guide the selection of data sources for the needs assessment.

Dr. Victoria Bernhardt, a California researcher in educational data analysis, has identified four basic categories of data: demographic data, student learning data, perceptions data, and school processes data. 

Demographic data describe school populations and are typically found in student information systems. Demographic data address questions such as, “Have student dropout rates decreased in the past five years?” or “Has the number of English learners increased over the past three years?” 

Student learning data may be gathered from local assessments, teacher grading records and statewide reports. These data answer questions such as, “Are reading scores for third grade students improving?” or “Do middle school students’ math grades reflect their standardized test scores in math?” Student learning data are more accurate and more informative when multiple sources of data are used.

Perceptions data are typically collected through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. These data address questions such as, “Do parents believe the schools in our district are safe?” or “Do students and teachers feel welcome in our schools?”

School processes data might be included in written policies, reports, and plans, or they might need to be acquired through interviews or informal conversations. These data answer questions such as, “What programs does the district provide for students at risk of not graduating?” or “How does the district communicate major program or policy changes to the school community?”

Combinations of two or more data types may be necessary to address complex questions. A question, such as, “Are low-income students who participate in after school programs more likely to perceive themselves as prepared for college or career than non-participating students?” requires the examination of demographic data, perception data, and process data.

Once the focus questions for the data analysis are determined, begin the needs assessment process. The process includes the following steps:

  • Assemble several years’ data to address each of the focus questions. Examining the data over time will help identify trends.
  • Before sharing data with the school community, put the data in a form that will be easy to understand and use. This often means making the data visual. Converting tables of test numbers into graphs, or converting paragraphs of focus group notes into diagrams or charts may make the data more accessible, and will encourage members of the school community to fully participate in the data analysis process.
  • Develop clear processes for analyzing the data and recording results of the data analysis. Guide participants to look for trends in the data over time and to look for similar patterns across multiple data sources. Be systematic, starting with the big picture of overall student achievement, and then examining different student groups and grade levels, or different schools. Remember that the purpose of the data analysis is to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. Problem solving and choosing strategies and actions will come later in the planning process.
  • To encourage active participation in the data analysis process, divide participants into small groups. Provide each group a set of questions to guide the data discussion, and use chart paper or electronically record data observations. When the small group analysis is complete, have each group present their most important findings. Document the findings, and note which observations seem important to multiple groups. This process will help the school community prioritize the areas identified for improvement.

The needs assessment priorities will guide the planning team in the next steps of the planning cycle as they develop concrete learning outcomes that define what students will know, accomplish, and be able to do when they reach the academic improvement targets. The priorities identified during the needs assessment will also guide the selection of strategies with the potential to accomplish the desired student outcomes.

To locate tools and resources to help with data analysis and needs assessment, visit the QSF website. Explore the QSF elements for Family and Community, Culture and Climate, and Equity to find suggested practices to engage the various members of your school community. Additionally, review the resources associated with this video, including a discussion guide that provides ideas for using this video with your school community.

Thank you for viewing this overview of analyzing data and assessing local needs. We encourage you to use and share this resource within your school and district community as you work to ensure that all your students learn and thrive.

Questions: Quality Schooling Framework | QSF@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0836 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 5, 2020
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