Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Testimony in Support of Better Data Use in Education

Today, the Mass. Joint Committee on Education is hearing testimony on H.4219: An Act Strengthening Public Education in the Commonwealth. Unable to attend, I submitted the following for their consideration:

Dear Rep. Peisch, Senator Chang-Diaz, and Members of the Joint Committee:

My name is Margaret Driscoll and I’m Chairman of the Melrose School Committee. I speak to you by way of this e-mail as an individual member, not as a representative of our Committee.

The Melrose School Committee has joined with many other cities and towns in the Commonwealth to advocate for the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, and I appreciate and value the conclusions and recommendations made by the Commission in sum and in the context of H.4219.

The language contained in this bill, consistent with recommendations made in the FBRC report, supports thoughtful, deliberative actions that will lead to better-informed total funding as well as more appropriate resource allocation of that funding. Collecting, analyzing, and reporting accurate data is at the heart of student improvement, just as in any other area of improvement. In addition, creation of a Stakeholder Data Advisory Committee designed to “assist the Department to identify, implement, and assess cost effective ways to (1) streamline financial reporting, eliminate duplicate reporting requirements, and improve data quality; (2) strengthen the department’s capacity to analyze and report staffing, scheduling and financial data in ways that support strategic resource allocation decisions at the district and school level; and (3) strengthen district capacity to use data to make strategic resource allocation decisions” institutionalizes the importance of using data as the basis for quality policy development. In conjunction with those actions, collaboration with key stakeholder groups (as the bill suggests) like the Mass. Association of School Business Officials, the Mass. Association of School Superintendents, and I would add the Mass. Association of School Committees, is an important way to incorporate the experiences of those of us with “boots on the ground” and ultimately improve the overall impact that data analysis provides.

I hope you will recommend this bill favorably and thank you for your continued work in the interest of student achievement in the Commonwealth.