The Power of Data-Driven Decision-Making

During last month’s State Board of Education meeting, I had the pleasure to recognize Citrus County Superintendent Sandra Himmel as the 2014 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year. Past winners of this unique award often come from large urban school districts. However, as Superintendent Himmel proved, using valuable data to guide decision-making is vital for school systems of all shapes and sizes.

Commissioner Stewart and Florida's State Board of Education presented Citrus County Superintendent Sandra Himmel with the 2014 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year award.

Commissioner Stewart and Florida’s State Board of Education presented Citrus County Superintendent Sandra Himmel with the 2014 Lavan Dukes District Data Leader of the Year award.

Gathering quality data on student proficiency and performance is vital to understanding what is working in our classrooms and where we have room for improvement. What makes Superintendent Himmel stand out among the other accomplished finalists is her tenacity to examine data trends, use the results to drive new initiatives and share the outcomes with teachers, parents and leaders in the Citrus County community.

In her recent “State of the District” presentation, Superintendent Himmel mapped out reading and mathematics proficiency levels for each school, comparing the district average to previous years and to statewide proficiency levels.

Within one click from the main Citrus County School District website, parents and educators can see the tremendous progress students have made in key subject areas, and which schools are exhibiting the greatest growth in student achievement. District staff also tracks the percentage of students taking advanced coursework and national assessments, comparing Citrus County students to both state and national score averages.

In response to receiving the award, Superintendent Himmel praised her staff members for their commitment to using data to guide district resources. “It is about our staff. It’s all about the data we use from our maintenance department to our educators in the classroom.”

“We always ask this question ‘how does it impact our students,’” she told State Board of Education members on Tuesday. From looking at 2013-14 school year data, Superintendent Himmel can assure her district’s dedicated educators that their efforts have resulted in higher student performance across the board.

I congratulate Superintendent Himmel and her staff for leading the Sunshine State in using inventive and appropriate data to cultivate higher achievement for all students.

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