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Data-based Decision

Making in American
Secondary Schools
Andrew Price | CURR 7014 | November 20, 2016


Recognize what data-driven decision-making is, what it entails, and what its
goals are


Examine how DDDM can and should influence secondary education and school


Explore how to create schools and school culture to support the practice of DDDM


Investigate examples of states that support diversifying data collection, linking,

and access through policies, practices, and programs that build local capacity for
DDDM in schools


Identify types of data collection other than just student performance data to
support strategic decision-making in secondary schools


Outline structures and strategies that support building teacher literacy and
capacity for using DDDM within schools through capacity-building interventions


Examine how schools can restructure themselves and create positive learning
communities (PLCs) that build capacity, support and engage teachers, encourage
student mastery and learning, and constantly monitor and adjust for schools

Data-Driven Decision-Making (DDDM)

Lange,, Range, and Welsh (2012) define data-driven decision-making as

a cyclical process that fosters communities of inquiry among teachers and
administrators, as well as students, by collecting, analyzing, and responding
to data while focusing on student mastery and instructional effectiveness.

Collecting, analyzing, and responding to data

Monitoring and adjusting

Kowalski, Lasley, and Mahoney (2008) define it as an ongoing, long-term

process of scientific analysis and problem-solving

Takes the subjectivity and craft out of the equation, focusing more on theory,
evidence, and action

Should build on reflective practice and be part of a broader protocol for problemsolving

DDDM and Its Implications for Secondary Schools and

School Improvement

Many argue that data-driven decision-making has been the mantra of

school reform since NCLB (Lange, Range, & Welsh, 2012, p. 3)

Data collection and analysis should always be used as a means or tool for
taking action, not as ends in themselves

But effective support for using data once it has been collected has been lacking
(Lange, Range, & Welsh, 2012; Marsh & Farrell, 2015)

Action theory (Kowalski, Lasley, & Mahoney, 2008; Marsh & Farrell, 2015)

DDDM should be built into schools and the culture of schools to support all
stakeholders in making informed, reflective, critical decisions for school

Shared governance and collaboration helps create a positive community focused

on informed decisions making (Lange, Range, & Welsh, 2012)

DDDM and Its Implications for Secondary Schools and

School Improvement


School leaders play an instrumental role in school

improvements and should focus on three major areas (Lange,
Range, & Welsh, 2012):
leadership responsibilities;
professional development responsibilities; and
school culture responsibilities

These three areas will guide the rest of this presentation


Examples of Providing Effective Access to Data and

Supports for DDDM in Secondary Schools

Gottfried, Ikemoto, Orr, and Lenke (2011) argue that localized capacity for
schools to collect, analyze, and respond to data is preferable instead of topdown mandates without support

They identify the importance of vertical integration, seeing localized

capacity as one part of a broader system of state-wide and agency-wide
systems of data collection, management, analysis, and responsiveness
Importance of creating state-wide and agency-wide repositories of data that
are easily and readily accessible by schools and teachers as a foundational

Examples of Providing Effective Access to Data and

Supports for DDDM in Secondary Schools

They focus on several key aspects of building programs, practices, and policies that support
effective development of localized capacity:

a. Develop a purposeful research agenda and collaborate with universities, researchers, and
intermediary groups to explore the data for useful information.

b. Implement policies and promote practices, including professional development and

credentialing, to ensure that educators know how to access, analyze, and use data

c. Promote strategies to raise awareness of available data and ensure that all key stakeholders,
including state policymakers, know how to access, analyze, and use the information.

d. Provide data collection tools (assessments, surveys, observation protocols), analysis tools
(software), and knowledge resources (access to best practice guides for instructional and school
improvement strategies) that educators can use locally for data collection, analysis, and
Gottfried, Ikemoto, Orr, and Lenke, 2011

Examples of Providing Effective Access to Data and

Supports for DDDM in Secondary Schools

While states under federal guidance have all worked to create more enriched
longitudinal data collection systems that provide greater access to schools and
districts, simply collecting data or having access does not constitute improvement
in using that data critically to inform or drive decision-making

States like Florida, Arkansas, Virginia, and Texas have created unprecedented
state repositories of students performance and other data

Texas especially provides customizable reports for school- and classroom level reporting
on groups and individual student performance

Importance of increasing types of data collected (Gottfried et al., 2011) and using
multiple measures (Bernhardt 1998) to illuminate different relationships and
different strategic opportunities to improve processes and programs within

Not simply focusing on student performance data or demographic data alone

Different Data and Multiple Measures for Strategic

Decision-Making in Schools

Goldring et al. (2015) pick up on this idea of creased and more diversified data
collection and linking to identify strategic areas for school improvements

They criticize traditional post-NCLB value-added models that use flat observational
data of teachers linked to student performance data on limited assessments

Instead, they propose focusing on enriched teacher observations that are specific
and objective and aligned to effective rubrics that support effectives instructional
standards and pedagogical methods

can often help identify weaknesses in instruction that can be addressed with additional
professional development

help principals and administrators identify employee strengths to make strategic use of
human capital within schools and within classrooms.

Does not downplay importance of demographic, student performance, or school

process data, but it sheds light on how critical choices of types of data collected,
data collection methods, and spheres of use can lead to more strategic, critical
decision-making that is rooted in action instead of merely reporting results

Building Teacher and School Capacity for DDDM

through Capacity-Building Initiatives (CBIs)

Marsh and Farrell (2015) focus on building teacher capacity through support and

They find that that principals struggled with effectively supporting teachers data use,
providing overly general guidance or emphasizing the importance of examining future
instructional responses to the exclusion of deep examination of past practice (p. 271)

They encourage the use of capacity-building initiatives (CBIs), including the use of
literacy coaches, data coaches, and data teams

Social learning theory suggests that stakeholders build capacity better working in teams with
support, monitoring, and normalizing

Using exemplars, observation, and support to encourage the collection and analysis of data to
drive decision-making, especially through the steps of monitoring and adjusting instruction for
student mastery

They note that although educators have access to a broad range of datathey do not always
know how to use data in a way that leads to deep changes in instruction and improved student
outcomesTeachers and administrators may lack adequate skills and knowledge to formulate
questions, select indicators, and identify solutions (p. 276)

Restructuring Schools to Support Teachers and Student

Mastery through the Practice of DDDM

DuFour (2004) notes that the use of and literature surrounding positive learning
communities is vast and often inconsistent or lacking clarity or direction

Schools should normalize data collection, analysis, and responsiveness by

creating cultures of inquiry that monitor, adjust, and provide support for
students through instruction and the school structure

Schools should use DDDM, but should restructure themselves around this process

DuFour (2004) notes that many teachers are expected to cover material and
attempt to remediate or support students on their own, working in isolation

Instead, monitoring and interventions should be provided for as part of the school
processes instead of leaving teacher shouldering the burden alone

Should be part of peer groups that share, challenge misconceptions, evaluate

programs, and collaborate to act on their observations


Data-driven decision-making means collected a variety of data that is linked

throughout multiple measures and analyses to solve strategic problems and support
school improvement

Data should be collected and made easily accessibly and customizable

Local capacity for schools and teachers to effectively collect, analyze, and respond
to data should be supported

Diverse data and collection methods should be employed to make critical and
creative decisions at strategic points

Teachers and administrators should have capacity increased through capacitybuilding initiatives that contribute to culture of practice and inquiry to support
student mastery learning

Schools should support teachers and provide for students to receive support they
need within the process and structure of the schools


Goldring, E., Grissom, J., Rubin, M., Meumerski, C., Cannata, M,, Drake, T., &
Schuermann, P. (2015). Make room value added: Principals human capital
decisions and the emergence of teacher observation data. Educational
Researcher 44(2), 96-104.

Gottfried, M., Ikemoto, G., Orr, N., & Lemke, C. (2011). What four states are
doing to support local data-driven decisionmaking: Policies, practices, and
programs. Issues and Answers Report REL 2012 (118), 1-27.

Lange, C., Range, B., & Welsh, K. (2012). Conditions for effective data use to
improve schools: Recommendations for school leaders. International Journal
of Educational Leadership Preparation 7(3), 1-12.

Marsh, J. & Farrell, C. (2015). How leaders can support teachers with datadriven decision making: A framework for understanding capacity building.
Educational Management Administration & Leadership 43(2), 269-289.

DuFour, R. (2004). What is a professional learning community?. Educational

Leadership 61(8), 6-11.