Education Analytics: Why schools should care about Business Intelligence

Primary and secondary education is becoming increasingly demanding – both in terms of running schools as a business and providing the resources to educate young minds.

School administrators and boards are often expected to do more with less; with funding tied to fees charged, academic results, student population size, class sizes, average daily attendance, extended program offerings (languages, music, fine arts, sporting, etc) and a range of other measures that detail overall school performance.

The ability of schools to attract new students and satisfy parents, governance groups, education ministries and government regulations is getting tougher each year.

Schools have long been required to produce reporting to stakeholders. And, with progressively tougher operating conditions, it’s an activity that takes significant time and uses substantial administrative resources.

But, schools have the opportunity to reduce this burden and even expand operational insights capable of improving business function and academic performance. How? By directing the high volume of data collected naturally into a Business Intelligence (BI) system that is priced and scaled to address school-level reporting requirements.

Higher education paves the way

While not as large as universities, primary and secondary schools share many of the same reporting and business problems. In countries where private schools are popular, it is not uncommon for private school yearly operational budgets to reach into the tens of millions. This makes those institutions complex to run.

Higher education institutions (universities and colleges) are increasingly adopting BI to reduce management complexity and discover the facts about their businesses that matter. A competency, which can boost academic, administrative and workforce related outcomes and help publicize those achievements.

To assess this performance-based data, these institutions turn to BI software – tools designed to display data in visual formats for the purpose of reporting and analysis – enabling them to explore and analyze that information to underpin fact-based decision-making.

To understand how the University of Konstanz (Germany) and Macquarie University (Australia) have used BI software to extract critical insights from a broad range of operational, financial, student, human resources, research and comparative rankings data, go here:

Why bother with BI: Improving school business performance

For schools, like universities, implementing a BI and analytics initiative enables administrators to access constant reporting, meet reporting requirements faster and easier, and foster a wider culture of accountability and data-driven decision-making.

Within the school community – by presenting insightful quantitative information in easily understandable formats – school decision-makers, educators and planners can identify important trends and take action to meet organizational or academic objectives.

BI and analytics technology can be used to deliver data-based insights that underpin three core areas of planning and assessment:

1. Academic outcomes and student experience

  • Analyze trends in student subject preferences and performance – to reshape curriculum delivery and subject offerings – to boost student results, retention and satisfaction
  • Track academic performance against organizational and government thresholds to enable corrective action to be taken where necessary
  • Track and assess individual, class and year level student performance by subject, and against specific areas of the curriculum within each subject, to pinpoint weaknesses and implement appropriate corrective programs
    • Analyze performance across subsequent exams to determine whether students are responding effectively to extra assistance and new methods of content delivery
  • Monitor behavioral indicators – such as attendance data, incident reports and discipline records – against behavioral benchmarks to determine when intervention is required

2. Administrative effectiveness and efficiency

  • Monitor and manage the amount spent on contracted services and extra curricular activities (cleaning, guest lectures, security, landscaping, music and sporting events)
  • Monitor student enrollment figures and class sizes over time to underpin resource planning and calculate government funding requirements and entitlements
  • Analyze costs and funds by faculty to establish budget shortfalls or surplus and determine the scale of any required fund raising activities
  • Track and assess the costs and effectiveness of marketing activities
  • Map and analyze the location of feeder schools and student addresses to develop targeted marketing and student acquisition campaigns
  • Easily provide the information needed to comply with government reporting and funding requirements as well as industry regulations

3. Workforce management and moral

  • Monitor and track the balance between teaching and non-teaching staff as well as student – teacher ratios to underpin student intake and hiring plans and processes
  • Monitor and track student intake, compared to the popularity of elective and extra curricular subjects over time, to assist with curriculum, timetabling and workforce planning
  • Monitor allocated workloads to ensure teachers are not over-allotted
  • Track average student grades by year level, subject or teacher – and evaluate against comparable historical data – to identify trends in student and teacher performance


By combining qualitative forms of assessment with quantitative analysis derived from a BI solution, primary and secondary education providers can:

  • Ensure educators and administrators have access to a single, accurate, meaningful and up-to-date view of operational and educational Key Performance Indicators, which can be easily analyzed and explored by non-technical personnel
  • Drive effective daily decision-making and long-term strategic planning based on fact and linked to clear strategic goals
  • Track progression towards defined goals and take action where necessary to ensure desired outcomes are achieved

A well-managed BI program can assist primary and secondary education institutions to dramatically improve administrative effectiveness and efficiency, academic performance as well as student / teacher experience and satisfaction.

For more on the benefits and barriers to education analytics, GO HERE >

About Yellowfin

Yellowfin is a global Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics software vendor passionate about making BI easy. Yellowfin offers a highly intuitive 100 percent Web-based reporting and analytics solution.

Founded in 2003 in response to the complexity and costs associated with implementing and using traditional BI tools, Yellowfin is a leader in mobile, collaborative and embeddable BI as well as Location Intelligence and data visualization. For more information, visit

Yellowfin: A leader in education analytics

Yellowfin is a leading provider of reporting and analytics solutions to the education industry.

Its ease-of-use means that educators, from any background, can quickly and independently access, analyze and act on critical business or academic data. Highly visual reports let anyone take timely fact-based action anywhere, anytime, from any device.

Better still, Yellowfin’s 5-user Starter Pack means that educators can enjoy the benefits of world-class Business Intelligence for just $3000 per annum. There are even special discounts for academic institutions. To find out more, GO HERE >

What is Business Intelligence software?

Business Intelligence refers to a broad range of computer software applications and tools used to report, analyze and present data in a range of formats, to help businesses identify trends and opportunities, and support fundamental decision-making.