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New Report Examines Direction of K-12 Leadership

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Today, the nonprofit Education Pioneers released The Invisible Lever: A Profile of Leadership and Management Talent in Education, an analysis of the current state of leadership in K-12 public education. The report offers three major findings developed using survey responses from more than 1,300 alumni of the organization's Graduate and Analyst Fellowship programs, as well as other data and research from across the country. Education Pioneers' fellowship programs recruit law, policy, education, and business graduate students for internships working with school district staff on special projects, performing academic, financial, human capital, or operational data analysis, and more.

Findings from The Invisible Lever include:

1. A new wave of managers and leaders is stepping forward to address the significant need for skilled managerial talent in public education, but many more are still needed.
2. Although running excellent school systems and education organizations is incredibly challenging, the sector offers significant management opportunities in general and for leaders of color.
3. More than ever, education leaders and managers must have sharp analytical skills, so they can work effectively with both business and student outcomes data to make important strategic, operational, and instructional decisions.

As a K-12 talent manager and data-nerd, the last finding was particularly interesting to me. The report notes that in the rise of 'Big Data' and sophistication of data systems in organizations, more than 55 percent of Education Pioneers' program alumni currently working in the education field hold an analytical role. More specifically, this group examines data around college readiness; teacher effectiveness; student achievement; finance; operations; human capital; and more.

One thing that I talk about frequently with district and state officials is the use of data to inform human capital decisions. The challenge is that while some school leaders may enjoy collecting and analyzing data, many lack the knowledge and skills to turn these numbers into useful information to drive improvement. It is important to keep in mind that as districts continue to gather more and more data, this information is only as good as what we do with it.

Is your district currently using data for process and program development or improvement? Do you have staff that handle data analysis? If so, what types of data are you using and how are you using them? Additionally, is your district training data experts or are you looking to hire individuals with deep data expertise?

For more information on talent management and human capital, you can follow me on Twitter at: @EmilyDouglasHC.

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