In addition to the white paper that I wrote for Microsoft that summarized essential data-driven decision-making concepts for teachers and principals, I also wrote a second white paper that summarized the various technology tools that school districts are using to manage summative and formative data.

Technology Tools for Data-Driven Teachers is only seven pages long and is a brief overview of data management and analysis (DMA) systems (i.e., data warehouses) and instructional management and assessment (IMA) systems. DMA systems are primarily used for management and analysis of summative data, such as those from yearly state assessments, and typically interface with districts' student information systems, electronic gradebooks, and other district databases. IMA systems typically are not integrated with DMA systems and are used to separately store and analyze data from ongoing progess monitoring efforts. I also briefly discuss in the white paper some other options that school districts have if they can't afford these often-expensive data systems.

Technology Tools for Data-Driven Teachers is a nice overview for educators who are unfamiliar with the technology options available for storing and analyzing student and school data. The white paper is deliberately written in non-technical language to facilitate easy understanding by administrators and teachers who probably are not technology wonks. Whether your district is reexamining existing tools for managing data or is looking for new solutions, the white paper can help give your educators get the big picture of what's out there as they try to make sense of different vendor offerings.

Two other resources that may be helpful are my ongoing lists of DMA system vendors and IMA system vendors. School districts often don't have the ability or inclination to do a full market scan of possible products and thus often miss vendor solutions that may better fit their needs. I don't claim that my categorization is perfect - sometimes products blur the lines between categories. If you have a vendor to add to one of these two lists, please comment on this post!