Using Data to Plan for Back to School

“I don’t want data-driven decision making. I want data-informed decision making. If we have a question about the data, we’re not going to act on it until we have more information.”
- Christopher Moore, School Psychologist at Salem-Keiser Public Schools

Data is always an essential part of back-to-school planning, but in times like these, when student and staff's situations are constantly changing, it can be tempting to rely only on data when making decisions.

Instead, we like to think about this quote from Christopher Moore above, which emphasizes how important it is to combine data with what you know about your school or district. Asking questions when you want to learn more about a data point helps us include the lived experience of our community in our decision making. 

Connect & Share Takeaways

Connecting with other district and school leaders is the first step in taking action. When you share the data and create intentional systems of coming back together and sharing takeaways, you 

Learning from and sharing with each other is a great way to not only hear what others are thinking and feeling, but it builds on the data that you have collected by taking into account as many voices and perspectives as possible.

The Distance Learning Meetup we held in Summer 2020 addressed some of the ways that you can address this connection piece. Watch the recording below to learn more about how Christopher Moore (quoted above) prioritized this connection.

Center Equity

Equity is an essential part of ensuring all students receive the education they need to succeed, but in many cases, it is not embedded in the way that we analyze and understand data. To do this, we need to consider not only the people we are serving in our district, but the systems that are currently in place that may need to be re-evaluated in order for us to move forward equitably.

You can use the following questions, as well page 12 of the workbook linked below, to guide your understanding of how to utilize your data to better support all students this school year and beyond.

Consider: Whose voice are we centering in our data inquiry?

  • Underserved students: Ex: I am centering our Black students today. 
  • Historical data: Ex: In our last survey, a) 90% of Black students reported high self-efficacy & b) we received 20% favorable responses regarding classroom engagement. 
  • Structural barrier: Ex: Our Black students have expressed that their schoolwork is only slightly challenging. 

Other Questions to Ask: 

  • In what area(s) of distance learning do we want to focus? Panorama's Distance Learning Workbook
  • What are 2-3 data points that stand out to us? 
  • What are our students telling us?


Utilizing the workbook linked to the right, dive into your survey data with your colleagues and start to explore how it can help you prepare for a more equitable back-to-school season.