Prizmah: Using Data to Advance Jewish Day Schools
June 6th, 2023
As the network organization of Jewish day schools and yeshivas across North America, Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools believes in the power of data-informed decision-making. Through knowledge curation, qualitative research, and financial and operational benchmarking, Prizmah empowers professional and lay leaders to help their schools thrive and tackle challenges on their paths to success.
To allow a better understanding of trends in North American Jewish day schools and empower school leaders to make strategic, informed, and data-driven decisions, Prizmah has led national enrollment studies, developed a salary data bank, and compiled benchmarking data and development reports that include annual fundraising benchmarks and data on day school endowments. Prizmah also partners with Jewish federations across North America to create community reports and provide dynamic dashboards that contain communal benchmarks with key operational metrics.
Being able to see the data from other schools regionally and nationally is incredibly valuable as it provides us with actionable insights into industry trends, benchmarks our performance, and empowers us to make data-driven decisions to stay competitive and deliver the best educational experience.
— Shmarya Gasner, Executive Director, Berman Hebrew Academy
These reports and tools are used by communities, foundations, and individual schools to optimize efficiency and maximize potential, often making a direct impact on decision-making. In one case, a school leader who was struggling to recruit new teachers accessed data from DASL (Data and Analysis for School Leadership), Prizmah’s financial and operational benchmarking tool, and realized that her school’s compensation structure put them on the very low end in the marketplace. Recognizing the impact this had on their ability to recruit talented educators, this leader and her board made the decision to increase teacher salaries.
Prizmah’s Knowledge Center is its central hub of data, research, and resources for Jewish day school and yeshiva leaders. In addition to curating existing resources for day schools, Prizmah also produces its own studies of the field and its needs. The Knowledge Center directs original research on a full range of topics integral to Jewish day school management, including compensation data, fundraising benchmarks, and student enrollment and retention trends. This important research allows school leaders, stakeholders, and foundations to understand the fieldwide landscape and place what is happening on the ground in communities and schools into the larger context of regional and national trends.
Currently, Prizmah is conducting a research project to measure and quantify Jewish day school affordability programs and better understand how these initiatives affect enrollment trends across North America. Prizmah expects to be able to leverage this data to inform and advance affordability programs going forward.
In line with the traditional principle of tocho kevoro, keeping internal processes in sync with external appearance, just as Prizmah champions the use of data by schools, the organization itself make research and data a critical part of its operations.
Through the use of surveys, Prizmah gathers participant feedback on all its programs and gatherings in order to understand the impact these initiatives make on professionals and schools. This data also measures what program aspects were most successful and where there is room for growth. Similarly, Net Promoter Score, the popular metric used by businesses globally to score the customer experience that measures loyalty and is predictive of business growth, is tracked across Prizmah’s programs. Measuring outputs, outcomes and impact allows Prizmah to understand its greatest levers for change.
Alongside comprehensive evaluation of its own programs, Prizmah also utilizes research in the field of Jewish education, both to determine the best ways to support schools and how programs are designed and to enable school leaders, boards and philanthropists to understand emerging trends as they are happening. On an annual basis, Prizmah’s Year in Review Report aggregates and summarizes trends and data that inform the organization’s strategic functioning and can help schools in important areas, including student enrollment and retention, fundraising, affordability, teacher retention, professional development, and more.
Prizmah is dedicated to creating and implementing a strategic and systematic approach to research, data collection, and knowledge sharing—one that informs, inspires, and empowers individual schools and communities.
The Jim Joseph Foundation is a supporter of Prizmah. Learn more at prizmah.org/knowledge