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The Role of Analytics in Growth-Driven School Decision-Making

November 28, 2023 jill Blog


Analytics refers to the use of data to visualize trends. Educators use analytics in a variety of ways to help make decisions about program offerings and potential donors, as well as to market those offerings, apply for credit, and meet accreditation requirements.  There are a variety of ways to collect the data used to create these powerful visualizations, and even some tools available to assist educators in compiling the necessary records.

5 School Decisions That Should Be Data Driven:

  1. Determining if your school is ready for a capital campaign.
  2. Identifying opportunities for new program offerings.
  3. Setting goals for fundraising initiatives.
  4. Determining tuition rates for the next 5 years.
  5. Reporting statistics to accrediting companies.

Is Your School Ready for a Capital Campaign?

Space issues can be a challenge for schools that are rapidly growing. Schools often get creative and find ways to use every inch of space on their campuses. Still, there can be a need for additional space, which is a very costly venture. Before diving deep into a capital campaign, school decision makers can use analytics to determine the amount of revenue per student that it has historically earned, and to predict the revenue per student over time. These numbers can be used to help determine how much of a capital campaign will need to be raised through outside fundraising. Breaking down those numbers per student can help a school determine how much of the funds it is likely to be able to raise from its families and how much of the campaign will need to come from donors or credit. When meeting with potential donors, analytics can provide a compelling visual to help tell the school’s story and explain why the donor’s funds are necessary to make the campaign successful.

How To Discover the Best Opportunities to Build New Revenue Streams for Your School

As schools face increasing enrollment during this unprecedented growth in private education, many schools are also facing the need to become more competitive in their offerings. This can include offering extracurricular activities like sports, clubs, or events. It can also include specializing program offerings like a vocational track in High School or accelerated courses to meet the needs of gifted learners. Some schools may specialize in meeting the needs of learners with challenges. Whatever the school’s vision; a solid data driven plan can help ensure the success of your new offerings. Surveys are a terrific way to gather data from your existing school base and the community. Surveys can be sent out to students currently enrolled but can also be shared on the schools’ website and social media pages to gather feedback from interested families. Some analytics that may become powerful during the decision-making process for new program offerings will allow the educator and your school board to identify where current sources of revenue are and how much revenue is coming from each source.

Using Your Data to Create Fundraising Goals

A successful fundraising campaign will require knowing how much money needs to be raised ahead of time and clearly communicating goals to participants.  For new initiatives like building a playground or purchasing modern technology there may not be historical data that helps to determine the cost of the actual project; however, data can still be utilized when evaluating the impact of the project on your school community.  Donors, like banks, may want assurance that the school organization is in a healthy financial position apart from the project.  They may wish to know the number of students that will use the project and/or statistics about alumni. Alumni and their families can be great sources of information and supporters for new fundraising projects. When preparing data for a donor meeting, visualizations are important because they help the potential donor draw conclusions with your data quickly.

How Often Should the School Reevaluate Tuition Rates?

Many schools evaluate tuition from year to year, which can be a costly mistake when unexpected expenses take place either in the actual school community or on a larger economic scale since families tend to respond negatively to tuition increases over multiple years.  One strategic way for a school to prevent this challenge is to evaluate the tuition increases over longer periods of time such as three to five years.  When schools evaluate the cost of tuition over time, they can more accurately plan for expenses like teacher raises or bonuses, technology improvements, additional staff members, or facility upgrades. When school leaders plan for multiple years at once it can be beneficial to look at the change that has occurred over the previous time frame. This will help decision makers find patterns and evaluate their effectiveness.

Can Analytics Help in the Accrediting Process?

Many accrediting organizations have detailed questions that assess the overall health and effectiveness of a school’s program offerings. Accreditation evaluates a school’s financial health, its curriculum effectiveness, and other statistics such as student teacher ratio. While each organization will require reporting in its own format, analytics can be useful to bring all the school’s data together in one place for the person filing out the accrediting paperwork. In some cases, analytic visualizations can be submitted as evidence of key metrics that are important in the accrediting process.

Are Analytics Really Necessary for a School to Grow?

Schools grow in a variety of ways and for many reasons.  Over time a school may experience growth due to people moving to the surrounding area, another school’s closure, and word of mouth, but for a school to truly be sustainable financially analytics are an invaluable resource. When schools embrace decision making through analytics, they discover new ways to inform stakeholders and lead their teams. Since it is the school, the student, and the community’s best interests for the school to drive, educators should embrace analytics as a necessary tool for growth.

Where Can a School Get Access to Analytics?

There are many ways to begin finding analytics for your next strategic planning meeting:

  • Look at the software you are currently using for statistics which may be provided already. This includes your SIS (Student Information System), SMS (School Management System), LMS (Learning Management System), and accounting software.
  • Partner with a data analyst or consultant who can build custom analytic reports for your team.
  • Hire a team member who can create analytic reports and perform other administrative tasks to further your school’s development initiatives.

A school may choose to use one of multiple of these places to find reliable data, but the key step of all is to get started making smarter growth driven decisions!

This article is provided courtesy of ClassReach, an easy-to-use platform designed for schools aiming to enhance organization and efficiency,