Recommendation Five:
Enhance capacity for analyzing and interpreting data to ensure PD opportunities are based on the needs of students and teachers.


Role Group Strategies:

Ensure that school improvement teams are using data to drive decision-making.  Provide tools to facilitate the use of data in decision-making.

Closing the Achievement Gap:  How Schools are Making it Happen
Rothman, R.  (2001-2002, Winter). Journal of the Annenberg Challenge, 5(2).
Five years ago, Lanier Middle School in Houston, Texas was by all accounts succeeding.  With well over 86 percent of their students passing these state tests, few outside of Lanier questioned the school’s performance.  By closely examining their data, however, the Lanier faculty identified wide differences in the performance of many student subgroups in their building.  These differences had been masked by the performance of the magnet students at the school.  This article from the Journal of the Annenberg Challenge outlines Lanier’s efforts to use data to drive their decision-making about instruction and professional development in an attempt to address these differences.

Data-Driven Schools Create Their Own Accountability
Working Toward Excellence (2002, Summer) The Alabama Best Practices Center.
This article outlines the importance of using data to drive school reform efforts and provides case studies of two schools who have made data analysis a part of their school culture.  It also includes a visual representation of how data-driven schools function and several web links to valuable resources related to the topic of data driven instruction.

Data-Driven Decision Making
Education Commission of the States. No Child Left Behind Issue Brief (2002)
The Education Commission of the States explains how exemplary school districts in California, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, and Texas use data. The authors explain the types of data gathered by the districts and the aspects of teaching and learning that the data informs, such as student placements, professional development, and curriculum. The article also discusses resource allocation and specific district actions to support data use.

Data-Based Decision Making:  Resources for Educators
AEL and The Council of Chief State School Officers.  (2001).
This tool provides a step-by-step guide to using data in school improvement.   It provides detailed advice and guidance for the following role groups: policymakers, state team leaders, school team contacts, and technical assistance providers and includes real school stories and action tools that support the creation and functioning of school improvement teams fluent in the use of data to make decisions.

Reinventing Education Change Toolkit
IBM (2002).
This toolkit, provided free of charge to anyone working in K-12 education, is designed to help school and district leaders to guide the school reform process.  The toolkit can be used to diagnose an environment for change, collaborate with members of a school change team, read real-life vignettes from education colleagues, plan a change initiative, and connect with educators worldwide.

Sustaining School Improvement:  Professional Development
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.  (2003).
This document outlines the key elements of effective professional development programs, offers strategies that school leadership teams can use when establishing professional development programs, provides a rubric for evaluating professional development within a school and shares a ‘success story’ from Witters/Lucerne Elementary School in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

The Toolbelt: A Collection of Data-Driven Decision-Making Tools for Educators
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
This website provides a variety of resources and action tools for improving schools through data-driven decision-making.  The site contains a data use primer, a searchable database of resources, a matrix of tools organized around various district needs, and a step-by-step guide to using data in school improvement efforts.

Using Data to Improve Student Achievement
Maryland Department of Education
While originally developed for Maryland principals and teachers, this website offers guidance to any school interested in using data to guide their school improvement efforts.  Four learning modules focus on the skills necessary for using data effectively to improve student achievement.  Most valuable to teachers and principals outside of Maryland are Module 3:  “Using School Data to Clarify and Address Your Problem,” and Module 4:  “Using Classroom Data to Monitor Individual Student Progress.”  The site includes sample documents, interviews, worksheets, and data collection templates.

Data-Driven High School Reform
Lachat, M.A. (2001). Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory
This report describes the importance of using data to direct school reform effots, defines what capacities schools and districts need to do so, and explains how to build those capacities. The author highlights specific schools' efforts to use data to guide reform and offers sample strategies for using data effectively.

Mapping a Course for Improved Student Learning:  How Innovative Schools Systematically Use Student Data to Guide Improvement
Supovitz, J.A., and Klien, V.  (2003, November). Consortium for Policy Research in Education.
This report from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education details how schools can use data to drive instructional decision-making and examines the efforts of several schools in this area.  It also discusses the importance of supporting teachers as they begin the process of collecting and using data as a source of information. 

Promote action research as a method of data collection and professional reflection.

Action Research Tools and Resources
The Teacher Leaders Network
The members of the Teacher Leaders Network, a major initiative of the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality, recently examined the process and potential of action research as a school improvement tool.  This web page features an extensive list of action research resources.  Included are articles related to action research, sample action research projects, and reviews of books that are designed to introduce educators to the process of action research.

Beyond the Rock and the Hard Place:  Educators Must Stop Lamenting the Challenges of Accountability and Start Making Improvements
Jerald, C.  (2003, November). Educational Leadership, 61(3), 12-16.

This article from Educational Leadership looks at the reality of the “scattershot” curriculum in most schools and examines potential steps that schools can take in order to begin to allow data to drive school reform.  It describes the importance of creating common curriculum goals, learning from student assessment data, and establishing “a culture of problem solving” in schools where practitioners learn from one another.

Introducing Schoolwide Action Research
Calhoun, E.F. (1994). How to use action research in the self-renewing school
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
This chapter from How to Use Action Research in the Self-Renewing School by Emily Calhoun introduces the concept of action research, describes two models of action research, and provides scenarios of two imaginary schools pursuing school improvement in different ways.

Themes in Education:  Action Research
Ferrance, E.  (2000). Themes in Research. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory.
This booklet introduces the concept of action research, a process of careful reflection on practice that encourages collaboration and allows teachers to address issues that are pertinent to their settings.  It provides an overview of the history of action research, an explanation of a process for completing it, stories from two teachers who have completed action research, and links to additional action research resources.

What is Action Research?
Sagor, R.  (2000). 
Guiding School Improvement with Action Research.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
This chapter from the book Guiding School Improvement with Action Research by Richard Sagor introduces the concept of and processes involved in action research.  He discusses the impact action research has on building reflective practitioners, achieving school-wide priorities, and building professional cultures and outlines a seven-step process common to any action research project.

If you have other resources to add or thoughts to share,
please email

data analysis | time | leadership | empowerment | prof development | facilities & resource