Dashboards are like graphic organizers for the important data your school collects. Falling into three categories: operational, analytical, and strategic, dashboards can be employed from athletics to advancement. Operational dashboards look at current performance levels. Analytical dashboards incorporate previous years’ data to help identify trends and inform future decisions. Strategic dashboards may be used to track indicators related to specific school goals and keep all informed of progress toward those goals.  

Several organizations offer tools for schools to use as they organize and simplify important information needed to make data informed decisions.

The links below offer options to help your school make sense of the mountains of data you deal with year to year.

Where can you find comparison data for independent schools? NAIS’ Data and Analysis for School Leadership (DASL) offers collected information for both NAIS member schools and non-members. NAIS members have access to nationwide information, dashboards, and custom salary reports. Non-members have access to information collected from their state or regional organization (SAIS) and statistical tables.

Market View is a NAIS member benefit offering reports on metropolitan areas detailing school age populations to inform recruitment strategy and identify prospective families.

From John Lewis, head of school at The Gunston School in MD and NAIS, Building a Better Dashboard for School Financial Health details how The Gunston School developed a dashboard approach to monitoring economic factors affecting tuition and enrollment.

John Huber, former head of school shares the benefits of dashboards from accessibility to benchmarking and items to include from enrollment to auxiliary programs. Huber cites the greatest challenge in developing a dashboard is avoiding data overload. “The goal is to mimic a car’s dashboard, not the cockpit from a Boeing 747.”

NBOA’s Financial Dashboard for Independent Schools was developed to help school leaders identify the indicators that have an impact on the financial health of the school. These indicators include operating income and expenses, endowment and debt per student, plant reserves, working capital, and more. They offer a reference guide and videos to help schools understand their dashboard. NBOA’s Business Intelligence for Independent Schools (BIIS) platform populates each school’s dashboard and is a benefit of NBOA membership.

Global Online Academy (GOA) has developed their Data Action Reporting Tool (DART) to generate user-friendly reports making student support more effective and efficient. The tool links with your school’s learning management system to collect and organize student data informing teachers, administrators, coaches, and advisors on student progress and need for support.

Palmer Ball, assistant to the head for finance at St. Joseph’s Catholic School and executive director of the Palmetto Association of Independent Schools, shared vital financial planning tools all schools should have during the 2021 SAIS Annual Conference in October.

Google’s Data Studio is a free tool that allows you to create customizable dashboards and reports. Their report gallery demonstrates the wide capabilities of the tool.

Klipfolio offers a starter guide to dashboards with definitions, examples, and design tips.