When are we looking at data in schools?

At Smart Data for Schools we have talked about why we use data, who looks at data, and how to use data to build a positive data culture. Once we know who is looking at the data, for what purpose, and what questions are being explored, it is necessary to create a data calendar to make clear to all stakeholders WHEN we are looking at the data.

Why do we need a data calendar?

We all know that schools are fast paced systems and time is always a precious resource. If educators know when time will be put aside to dig into the data, they less likely miss data analysis opportunities. What often can happen is that a school will collect a lot of data, but not leverage its potential until later on in the year if at all. Our students are growing and changing everyday, so if we don’t take the time to look at the data in a timely manner things can change rendering it less relevant. The creation of data calendars is the effective mechanism to support schools in knowing when to look at data.


What do we need to consider when building our data calendars?

Data calendars are created to plan and strategize when we are collecting data, when it is ready, and when we are looking at it.

How should we structure our data calendars?

Every school is going to have different testing dates, surveys windows, and/or grading periods, however in general every school can consider 4 main timeframes to structure their data calendar around. By simplifying this into 4 timeframes it allows us to be more intentional about why we are looking at data at certain points of the school year. *This is intended for schools in the northern hemisphere and may need to be tweaked based on your context.

Who should be looking at data when?

In schools, there is so much data to look at and many different ways to represent the information for different audiences and purposes. For example, teachers and leadership will be looking at different data points throughout the year for different reasons. It is then important to create separate data calendars for each stakeholder so that they can focus on what data and purposes are most relevant to them and when.


Leadership Calendars

Student Support Services Calendars

Teacher Calendars

Thinking template for developing data calendars


Data calendars will help a school become more intentional about using their data. It is possible that creating data calendars can get quite overwhelming. Below is a data calendar thinking template that can be used to organize collection dates, analysis dates, identifying stakeholders that are looking at the data, and of course when. It is recommended that you use the below template separately for different stakeholders.