You can’t reach the finish line in one stride. But you can take steps that make the finish line easier to reach. Some strides, in other words, get you further than others.

In the world of education, bringing together a school’s many different data sources — i.e., data integration — is one of those strides.

A recent and excellent article on EdSurge made me think of how powerful integration can be in helping educators reach their goals. Based on a survey of almost 5,000 educators, the contributing author, Karen Johnson, observes that educators really want to use data for three main purposes: to assess, analyze and pivot.

Johnson says that “technology” can help educators use data how they want to — but I think it isn’t just technology in general. Integration, in particular, is how you use technology to turn data from something educators have into something they can use.


What educators want from their data is insight into “what’s going on” — in a class, across a grade level, and with individual students. And those insights are hard to obtain when data sources aren’t integrated and sharing data with one another.

Educators have to spend valuable time inputting data and bouncing between apps. And they’ll always face the risk of missing something valuable.

Integrating data sources means getting them to speak the same language (via a data standard) and exchange information automatically. This saves educators time, labor and worry, and clears the way for them to get a full picture of “what’s going on.”


The insights you can gain from comparing and correlating data are immense. In Johnson’s words, educators want to be able to do things like “match student performance with key standards” and “compare the trajectory of their students with those who have taken the same course in the past.”

When data sources are integrated, educators can do that — and more. An underlying technology platform, like Ed-Fi’s, connects all the dots behind the scenes, so that educators have a one-stop-shop for viewing and analyzing all the data they need.


Students are individuals, and to maximize their success, each student may need an individual intervention from time to time. Educators, therefore, need the ability to perceive individual needs and act on them when they arise.

How does integration help? By giving educators the ability to drill down to individual student stories. Also, it puts the most up-to-date student data at their fingertips — enabling personalized and real-time responses to the circumstances.

If you didn’t click on Johnson’s article when I linked to it above, do so now. It’s a quick read with some very important ideas.

Everything you do to help educators access and utilize data gets us all closer to the outcomes we want for students. Integration is a critical stride a state or district can take toward its goals.