For all the education programs managed by E3 – including the Oregon Small Schools Initiative – leaders adhere to the guiding principal that data drives decisions.
The Initiative, therefore, established quantitative data-centric reporting. In 2007 a full-time data specialist was recruited to bring dedicated focus and rigor, and to ascertain trends among schools in the Initiative portfolio of schools.
A vast amount of information was collected at the outset directly from the schools. Comparative and trend analyses were conducted as the released school data reports throughout the year. This allowed the Initiative to compare results across the portfolio of schools, and to analyze comparisons to:
- Oregon benchmarks
- Schools in Oregon with similar student demographics
- Schools within the same community.
The Initiative faced four inherent limitations, however, in its analysis :
- Staggered opening of small schools
- Phasing in of grade levels
- Absence of disaggregated data for individual schools on some campuses
- Delayed reporting of educational data due to lags in collecting and consolidating school and student information.
To overcome these obstacles, the Initiative worked in cooperation with the to acquire student data. This greater level of specificity allowed for deeper analysis and more statistically reliable computations. Additionally, , an Oregon-based economics firm, conducted regression analysis to assess how students at Initiative schools fared when compared to known outcomes of students with similar demographic backgrounds and circumstances.