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Technology Tools Allow Performance Management

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation recently released a report about performance management--defined as a leadership culture that uses technology tools to gather, share, and act upon timely and relevant information in order to improve student achievement. I recently spoke with Lori Fey, the portfolio director of global policy initiatives for the foundation, to talk more about what that term means and how it works in schools.

"What we hope to capture with an overall term like performance management," she told me, "is that it is systematic, it is driven through all levels of the organization--both the academic and the operational part of the organization--and it's [focused on] continuous improvement."

Gathering data on school operations, such as transportation and teacher attendance, can lead to surprising realizations for school districts, said Fey. That data can be used to pinpoint areas for improvement. For example, using performance management, one school district found that the reason why students were not succeeding in Algebra I had to do in large part with a drop in the teacher attendance, she said.

The hope is that data can identify problems before they start, Fey explained.

"One of the things we are seeing is the power of data to identify trends that help you intervene early and effectively to change the course of the student's trajectory," she said.

Another important aspect of performance management is that it's not just about collecting data, but collecting data that educators can actually use. Being able to break data into usable chunks that a teacher or principal can look at and analyze quickly is an important aspect of performance management.

If you'd like to see how specific schools are using this method to help improve student achievement, the report is here, or you can check out a video that will walk you through it here.

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