Amy L. Sales, Ph.D., a senior researcher at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University, writes in a guest post in the PEJE blog about the importance of day school administrators regularly entering their school's data in the JData database. Only after a school's numbers are aggregated with those of other day schools, can administrators get perspective on the field in which they are operating, or comprehend their school’s place in the larger system.
"JData’s mission is to collect statistics on the field of Jewish education—namely, the people who deliver and receive this education, and what the education costs. The statistics available from JData are used by national agencies and foundations as well as local federations and central agencies for Jewish education. As with the census, the data from any one school is most valuable when it is aggregated with those from other schools. Only then can we get an accurate picture of the size and shape of the field; track enrollment and cost over time; compare population figures to school enrollments; identify communities for day school expansion; and see the total cost of Jewish day schools—a number that underscores the enormity of the enterprise and makes the best case for outside funding.
Unlike the U.S. Census, JData is building tools that help day school professionals use the data. The new longitudinal report, for example, displays the school’s data year-by-year, giving school leadership a top-line view of change over time. With this view it is possible to identify positive trends that can help make the case for the school or more problematic trends that might suggest action to be taken. The newly redesigned comparison report juxtaposes the school’s own data with that of similar schools. This report can inform discussions about next year’s tuition, the success of recruitment efforts, or any other topic related to the various metrics in the JData profile. Easy access to these reports has obvious benefits for the school’s communications, fundraising, staff transitions, board training, planning, and the like."
See the entire post on the PEJE blog.