Balancing the Equation: How Talent Data Can Lead to Better Decision-Making for K-12 Leaders

Tim Clifford, President and CEO, Frontline Education
Frontline Education is an integrated insights partner to K-12 school districts nationwide.

Every day, technology is transforming K-12 education. In-classroom applications and devices are a marvel, persistently advancing new and smarter ways of teaching and learning. And the use of data on student learning is helping educators guide and differentiate learning experiences, support deeper learning across ability levels and even predict whether students are at an increased risk for failure or dropout.

Still, K-12 use of mission critical administrative and human resources technologies and data have been playing catch up. In the last decade, there’s been tremendous progress with school districts rapidly embracing software like our solutions that facilitate easy placement of substitutes, provide and manage professional growth and streamline special education processes to name a few. But opportunity remains to make a leap from the core functionality of these and other myriad solutions to using the data. Effective use of data can enable better, more strategic decisions about all kinds of K-12 operations including managing the single most important district asset: talent.

Once an administrative task, attracting and retaining educators is now a strategic imperative. The confluence of circumstances that have contributed to a shrinking teacher talent pool have made it so.

Unbelievably though, while we’ve been doing a good job proclaiming the merits of data for K-12 education, we haven’t been nearly as diligent in helping district leaders tap this valuable information then do something with it. That’s true when it comes to talent data and HCM.

Our new white paper “Balancing the Equation: How Talent Data Can Lead to Better Decision-Making for K-12 Leaders” offers guidance on how districts can access data to unlock insights from the educator talent pipeline. It also advocates districts use these five principles to drive HCM strategy:

  1. All data are not necessarily useful or relevant.
  2. The translation of data into action requires thoughtful planning, training and practice.
  3. Data that are collected must be trusted.
  4. Data collection and use must be a part of an interactive cycle that involves testing hypotheses, measuring outcomes and making course adjustments.
  5. Data systems must have the flexibility to help gather, measure and focus on the things that matter most.

The paper further urges districts to organize data systems according to a theory of action and that data must transcend departmental boundaries and silos. Our supposition is that with connected data systems, a coherent theory of action and cross-departmental collaboration, school systems can create a new future where data are rigorously collected and evaluated to support educators from hire to retire.

Frontline’s vision for strategic human capital management characterized by a holistic approach to building and maintaining a high-performing employee culture, can help leaders make data-driven decisions aligned to the school system’s strategic objectives. Ultimately, it is our hope that the right lens on human capital management can help turn the tide on teacher recruitment and retention.

For more information or a copy of the white paper, please visit

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