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A Lesson in Analytics: How Data Can Elevate Student Achievement

Nick Montgomery, Chief Research Officer, PeopleAdmin

Nick Montgomery, Chief Research Officer, PeopleAdmin

According to the Learning Policy Institute, there are not enough qualified applicants for open teaching positions across the United States. Some districts are addressing the teacher shortage by cutting certain electives and increasing class sizes. The California Legislature is even considering a bill that gives teachers tax breaks.

If passed, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017 would give new teachers certain tax credits. It would also exempt those who remain in the profession more than five years from paying state taxes on income earned from teaching. The bill is currently in the suspense file.

The teacher shortage is gaining more media attention because of its potential long-term societal impact; however, sectors such as engineering, and nursing also have struggled to fill positions and retain qualified professionals.

"There’s a common business phrase: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That applies to education too. School districts looking to improve their hiring process need to start with tracking the basic statistics"

While corporations have long used business intelligence to improve hiring processes, school districts are now able to tap data to drive recruiting efforts, while elevating student achievement in the process.

We asked PeopleAdmin’s Chief Research Officer Nick Montgomery a few questions on how school districts can use data to improve their hiring processes. His insights can easily be applied to other areas.

Q: Managing and using data can be difficult. How do school administrators start to use data to tackle hiring challenges?

A: There’s a common business phrase: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That applies to education too. School districts looking to improve their hiring process need to start with tracking the basic statistics. This includes measuring everything from how many applicants you receive to how many applicants get through each hiring phase. These insights are critical in helping districts determine which jobs are going unfilled and why.

Another key area to review is “time-to-hire” statistics. In competitive fields such as education, nimbleness is critical. Best practices suggest making an offer within 30 days from when the teacher applies. If you don’t, the odds of a teacher rejecting your offer increase by 60 percent.

Q: Should school districts forego “traditional” means of finding candidates?

A: Networking, career fairs and referrals still play an important role in the recruiting process, but school districts need to look beyond the resume-gathering approach. Today, a resume is not the best tool for identifying high quality teacher applicants. Districts need a research-based assessment to find the candidates who best fit their requirements and, to that end, are likely to deliver better long-term outcomes in the classroom. Using an automated, analytical screening tool allows districts to manage this process efficiently.

Q: Are there additional steps districts need to take to make the most of data in hiring?

A: Data provides a lot of benefits, but managing and maximizing data is a continuous process of reassessing and determining areas for improvement. For school districts, this can mean a lot of things— from uncovering whether certain schools take longer to review applications to determining if interested candidates are dropping out at one specific stage in the hiring process. Obtaining this information is the starting point, but using it on a consistent basis to make strategic decisions results in long-term success.