Consider this assertion, “A leader’s job is to persuade, and stories persuade more effectively than reports, studies, statistics, or presentations.” As a leader, what are the stories you are telling to transform achievement and equity in your school communities? Traversing experiences from the classroom to the Boardroom, I always found myself referring back to the story. So, what goes into a good story and how can you use data to appeal to both the heart and mind? What is your role as a storyteller?

As we explore storytelling, I am drawn to contributor Brent Dykes’s article for Forbes magazine, in which he went so far as to boldly announce the headline Why Datastorytellers will Define the Next Decade of Data. Little did we know that shortly after the release of this article, things would also boldly change, and so too would our stories. How we teach, the ways that we need to see our data, and the stories of racial inequities were brought into new learning settings, stakeholder groups, and media outlets. In these contexts, we find ourselves redefining ourselves, our community, and our vision of the future. So how do we tell these new stories of our system? 

Data storytelling is about:

  • Communicating insights effectively.
  • Giving data a voice.

Each data point is a character in a story – a protagonist – with its own story to tell.

K12 360o provides tailored views to support data storytelling by an administrator.

Data Storytelling vs. Data Visualization

K12 360o  provides tailored views to support data storytelling in the classroom.
K12 360o  provides tailored views to support data to describe individual student performance.

Data storytelling is not simply data visualization, analytics reporting, or a handful of statistics, charts, and graphs. Data storytelling is the blending of two worlds: hard data and human communication. A narrative anchored by compelling data.

Let’s look at some examples of how data storytelling might be used for K-12 organizations. Notice that each example requires narrative to explain what was done and data to show the results before and after the actions were taken.

  • Parent communication – communicating to parents how their child has progressed over the last three years, showing the child’s academic and social-emotional learning outcomes.
  • School performance – explaining key actions taken by school leadership and the outcomes that were achieved in school performance metrics.
  • Chronic absenteeism – showing how chronic absenteeism has increased over the last few years and demonstrating its negative impact on student assessment scores and school finance.
  • Career Technical Education – explain how career technical education has provided opportunities to children resulting in lower dropout rates, higher lifetime earnings, and a better prepared workforce.

Each example utilized both data and narrative to enhance human communication and understanding. Together they explain what has happened or what needs to be done to reach a milestone, goal, or tell YOUR compelling story. K12360 is a trusted partner in helping you tell your data story. YOU give your story the voice!

Follow up Resources

To learn more about this, read the article and presentation with Tech and Learning:

Digital Storytelling in Enterprise Reporting and Actionable Equity

Contact us to get started!


Frances Marie Gipson, PhD

Dr. Frances Marie Gipson is a clinical associate professor of education in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, and also serves in the capacity of Director of the Urban Leadership Program. Prior to this role, Dr. Gipson served as the Chief Academic Officer of the second largest school district in the nation.  Dr. Gipson’s leadership has been formally recognized from her peers, higher education, and national organizations ranging from Administrator of the Year Award from ACSA, the Tae Han Kim award for humanitarian and cultural accomplishments, CSULA Day of the Educator award for excellence in fieldwork supervision, Excellence in Urban Leadership Award, Top 30 Trailblazers, Technologists, and Transformers by the Center for Digital Education, AALA President’s Award, Sanford Inaugural Scholar, and most recently Distinguished Alumni by CGU.

Dr. Gipson believes that “living in the system” and “disturbing the system” are both critical to agency and advocacy for youth, and ensure that our communities are at the center of all decisions. She is inspired to coach, mentor, and support the next generation of urban leaders who will promote flourishing urban school systems.