A significant instructional change has occurred within the last decade: educators are focusing on using data to inform instruction, supported by a culture that is increasingly evidence-based. Data is available from multiple systems—but is not always readily available leaving districts data rich, but information poor. An effective discovery-centered analytics solution that exhibits the following characteristics can help.


Attentive pupil. Clever professional teacher pointing to the screen of a modern computer and her diligent pupil looking at it


1: Ease of Access to Data Sources

One of the things we hear regularly from districts is the difficulty they face consolidating all of their data in one place. Assessment scores are captured in multiple formats from multiple vendors, which seldom integrate into central district locations such as the Student Information System (SIS). Individual Education Plans (IEPs) often reside in separate systems—and Learning Management Systems (LMS) can be a third data island. A strong discovery analytics solution should:

  • Incorporate data from a wide array of sources
  • Consume this data without a cumbersome data warehouse
  • Provide an easy method to view and explore data from all available sources

2: Enable Dynamic Discovery

A strong discovery analytics solution (such as Scantron Analytics) connects the dots between multiple data sources. You’re no longer looking at data in isolation (e.g., state summative test scores for this year). You are comparing this year’s scores with last year’s and adding a layer that links them to formative testing throughout the year. You can then disaggregate results based on student demographics such as ethnicity or full academic year/transfers, and much more. Now you have real context for those scores—they tell a complete story you can use to help students succeed.

Discovery analytics are different because they are dynamic. While you may start with a dashboard, you decide where to dig deeper. If the answer to your first question generates more questions, you can immediately uncover the answers simply by clicking. You can drill down into further details or up for a broader view or across to additional connections. You just ask the question and the system guides you automatically to discovering the answer.

3: Provide Speed and Independence

As educational institutions have become more data driven, stakeholder expectations on how data can impact instruction have risen. For example, we met with the assessment director for a large Florida district. It was the day before a school board meeting, and our meeting was continually interrupted by incoming requests for different analyses from the Superintendent and various Board members. With every request, the Assessment Director was spending 10 to 15 minutes answering a single question—do you have that kind of time?

Discovery analytics solutions epitomize speed and independence. Data from disparate sources is integrated the moment it’s received or updated. Dashboards immediately update to display the most recent information. Anyone with access can instantly begin exploring all their data to uncover patterns and relationships that they then turn into knowledge and decisions.