Data

Data

Although large, aggregated datasets may be relevant to district-, state-, or country-level decision making, schools also recognize the benefits of collecting their own data to understand the needs of their students and communities (for discussion of examples see Alwin, 2002; Mandinach, 2012; Young, 2006).

Schools benefit from collecting local data from individuals or groups whose voices and experiences may otherwise be marginalized within the school community. For example, the collection of data from students is critical to tailored, effective prevention and intervention strategies. Because SOGI-related bullying and harassment behaviors are often underreported or go undetected, creative, school-specific data collection about SOGI issues is especially important (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). Students who experience and witness bullying related to sexual orientation or gender identity rarely report these behaviors to adults in their schools and communities (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz & Bartkiewicz, 2010). In addition, bullying behaviors often occur in spaces such as lunchrooms, buses, playgrounds, and bathrooms where adults may not be able to see or hear exchanges (Perkins, Perkins & Craig, 2009). These issues contribute to a lack of awareness of school administrators and staff regarding the prevalence of bullying and harassment in their schools, the forms these behaviors take, and the specific areas where intervention is needed. Inviting students to provide information anonymously is one approach that permits them to contribute their knowledge and experiences to support improvements to school climate.

Schools should also collect data from key adult stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and other school staff, in order to maximize the effectiveness of decision making. Data collected from teachers and other school staff can provide information on their knowledge of bullying and harassment policies and practices already in place and barriers to adhering to these strategies (Kyriakides & Creemers, 2013).  These, coupled with student data, can aid schools in targeting their professional development thereby providing teachers, staff, and advocates with the information and support they need to foster safer school climates (Pignato, 2011)