Odelia is Prizmah's Director of the Knowledge Center.

How School Leaders Use Fieldwide Data About Financial & Operational Metrics to Aid In Decision Making

Are you ever in a situation where it might be helpful to know how other schools operate? For instance, knowing what percent of budget other schools receive in net tuition? How much to pay a new hire based on what they might earn elsewhere? Having comparative data can help elevate your strategic decision making, make meaning of your own context, and help you lead with an informed vision.

Strategic thinkers often use phrases like data-informed decision making, data-driven decision making, and evident-based practice. To get definitional for a moment, data-informed decision making his about using data as one of multiple inputs for making decisions. Data-drive decision making is letting the data itself drive the decision. Evidence-based practice is about applying research findings to practice. Which of these resonates most for your practice?

As part of my work at Prizmah, I have the privilege of helping school leaders make decisions using comparative data from other Jewish day schools and independent schools. Using comparative data from similar organizations is called benchmarking. Here are a ew examples of how benchmarking data can help your school. 

Compensation Benchmarking 

I spoke to a school leader who was interested in recruiting new teachers and raising teachers’ salaries. The head of school wanted to know the average teacher salary at other Jewish day schools and average salaries based on years of experience. She found the data she was looking for, shared it with her school’s executive director and board, and was able to raise teacher salaries.

Another school leader was hiring a new development professional and wasn’t sure what a reasonable salary band would be for someone with the experience level the school was looking for. Prizmah worked with this school leader to provide relevant comparative data that helped the school attract a desirable candidate.

Key Operating Metrics 

School leaders and boards are often dealing with decisions that have very real implications for their families and communities. Tuition setting, financial aid budgets, fundraising goals and enrollment decisions all impact individual families. A school leader was asked by the board to figure out if they should raise tuition starting in middle school. A look at comparative tuition data helped them develop a model for their tuition that brought it in line with their local schools. 

At a different school, a board member thought that the school should be raising more funds through their annual campaign. Benchmarking data showed that the school was indeed raising 20% less funds than their peers. The school decided to raise their fundraising goals and use the money to improve educational quality and fund salary increases for staff.

An admission professional was tracking her school’s student attrition rate and wondered whether her school’s rate of 7% was normal, high or low. Using comparative data, she discovered that her attrition rate was below average.

How did all of these professionals find the data they needed?

Prizmah facilitates a Jewish day school and yeshiva cohort within the National Association for Independent School’s benchmarking tool called DASL (which stands for Data and Analysis for School Leadership). Your school’s participation in this data collection helps both your school and all Jewish day schools and yeshivas nationally to access critical comparative benchmarking data. 

If you are already a part of this endeavor, thank you! If you aren’t, please join the over 100 Jewish day schools and yeshivas that are currently participating by entering your school’s data this summer, to enable your school leadership and schools nationally to make critical, data-based decisions.

Data collection opens on 6/14 - Learn more about DASL