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The abstracts used in this resource were taken from the websites of organizations supplying the referenced documents.

Data Quality Campaign. (2012). Supporting education policy and practice through common data standards: A policymaker's guide. Washington, DC: Author
Consider the high-priority challenges facing education stakeholders today, such as measuring teacher effectiveness, implementing the Common Core State Standards, aligning K-12 and postsecondary education efforts with workforce demands, efficiently allocating resources, and ensuring that students stay on track to success. These efforts all rely on the efficient collection, management, and use of education data--and stakeholder confidence in those data, particularly if they will be used for high-stakes personnel, accountability, or other decisions. Over the last decade, state, federal, and private investments of political will and resources have contributed to significant progress in building robust statewide longitudinal data systems. Attention is now shifting--as it should be--to the work of ensuring that data are used by stakeholders to answer critical questions and inform decision making from the kitchen table to the classroom to the state capitol. In the absence of common data standards that ensure the quality, comparability, and efficient sharing of data, these efforts' impact will be limited and their implementation costly and ineffective
(pdf, 364kb)

Data Quality Campaign. (2012). Investing in educator data literacy improves student achievement. Washington, DC: author. Retrieved from
Since 2007 the Oregon DATA Project has been investing resources to provide educators on-the-job training around effective data use to improve student achievement. New evidence shows that their efforts are paying off. A 2011 Oregon DATA Project report detailed the impact of their investment in the state's educators, finding the following: ( 1) Participating schools were closing the achievement gap at a faster rate than schools without access to data training. (2) Teachers in participating schools felt more comfortable using data in their classrooms, suggesting a culture change around data use. With this report Oregon emerges as a shining example of this type of investment in educators. Still, most states have not sufficiently invested in their educators by providing them the resources they need-including access and training on how to use data in the classroom-to do the vital work of improving student learning
(pdf, 2495kb)

Faria, A., Heppen, J., Li, Y., Stachel, S., Jones, W., Sawyer, K., Thompson, K., Kutner, M., Miser, D., Lewis, S., Casserly, M., Simon, C., Uzzell, R., Corcoran, A., & Palacios, M. (2012). Charting success: Data use and student achievement in urban schools. Washington, DC: Council of the Great City Schools.
In recent years, interest has spiked in data-driven decision making in education--that is, using various types of student data to inform decisions in schools and classrooms. In October 2008, the Council of the Great City Schools and American Institutes for Research (AIR) launched a project funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that focused on understanding the use of data as a lever for instructional improvement. The study was conducted in four urban districts located in geographically distinct areas. The project had two interrelated objectives: (1) to document and understand current data-use practices across urban school districts in terms of the use and availability of data--in particular, the administration and use of interim assessments; and (2) to generate empirical evidence regarding the relationships between student achievement and data-use practices at the school and classroom levels. To address the first objective, the authors administered surveys to district academic/curriculum coordinators and research directors to obtain a general overview of the state of current practices in using data to inform school- and classroom-level decision making across urban school districts. Following the surveys, the authors conducted a series of case studies of four urban districts, allowing for a more in-depth look at district data use. This report focuses on the second objective: examining the empirical relationships between teacher and principal use of student interim assessment data and achievement on end-of-year accountability tests. In the report, the authors expand on the existing body of literature on the use of interim assessments by examining the extent to which data-use practices (including perceptions about using data) are related to student achievement. The report is organized in three sections.
(pdf, 24301kb)

Hamilton. L., Halverson, R., Richardson, J., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using student achievement data to support instructional decision making. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
The purpose of this practice guide is to help K-12 teachers and administrators use student achievement data to make instructional decisions intended to raise student achievement. The panel believes that the responsibility for effective data use lies with district leaders, school administrators, and classroom teachers and has crafted the recommendations accordingly. This guide focuses on how schools can make use of common assessment data to improve teaching and learning. For the purpose of this guide, the panel defined common assessments as those that are administered in a routine, consistent manner by a state, district, or school to measure students' academic achievement. This guide includes five recommendations that the panel believes are a priority to implement: (1) Make data part of an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement; (2) Teach students to examine their own data and set learning goals; (3) Establish a clear vision for school-wide data use; (4) Provide supports that foster a data-driven culture within the school; and (5) Develop and maintain a district-wide data system. A glossary of terms used in the report is included.
(pdf, 1803kb)

Heppen, J., Jones, W., Faria, A., Sawyer, K., Lewis, S., Horwitz, A., Simon, c., Uzzell. R., & Casserly, M. (2011). Using data to improve instruction in the great city schools. Washington, DC: Council of the Great City Schools.
A key lever for improvement in instruction and student support is the data that are available in urban districts. A considerable amount of information now exists about students' academic strengths and weaknesses, and the momentum to build and improve data systems is increasing at a rapid pace. In fall 2008, the Council of the Great City Schools and the American Institutes for Research launched a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focused on understanding and improving the use of interim assessment data as a catalyst for instructional improvement. The overarching goal of this study is to establish principles of best practice in using interim assessment data to improve instruction and target support. This report shares findings to date that address the first objective: to document current practices of urban school districts in regard to interim assessments, data systems, and the use of data for decision making. The findings draw from two sources of information. The first source comprises surveys administered in summer 2009 to Curriculum Coordinators and Research Directors in the member districts of the Council of the Great City Schools about their use of interim assessments and data systems. The data from this survey provide a general overview of the state of current practice in using data to inform school- and classroom-level decision making across U.S. urban districts. The second is a set of case studies based on site visits to four selected urban districts between February and April 2010.
(pdf, 524kb)

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), 1-11.
Although data driven-decision making has been the mantra of school reform for the last 10 years, school leaders benefit from frequent discussions in how to engage teachers in the process. As a result, the purpose of this paper is to apply Reeves' (2004) framework concerning Antecedents of Excellence in creating a school culture that routinely uses data to inform instruction. The authors argue principals must focus on three antecedents as precursors to effective data use: leadership responsibilities, professional development responsibilities, and school culture responsibilities. Additionally, the authors highlight shared leadership as being instrumental when creating a data-driven culture. Applications for practice are included.
(pdf, 814kb)

Means, B., Chen, E., DeBarger, A., & Padilla, C. (2011). Teachers' ability to use data to inform instruction: Challenges and supports. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development.
Research indicates that teachers' confidence level about their ability to analyze and interpret data affects the likelihood that they will use available data (U.S. Department of Education, 2008). Unfortunately, teacher training programs generally have not addressed data skills and data-informed decision-making processes. Understanding the nature of teachers' proficiencies and difficulties in data use is important for providing appropriate training and support to teachers, because they are expected to use student data as a basis for improving the effectiveness of their practice. This report describes an exploratory substudy on teachers' thinking about data conducted in conjunction with the larger Study of Education Data Systems and Decision Making data collection and the implications of the substudy findings for teacher preparation and support. Part I of this report describes the responses that 50 individual teachers and 72 small groups gave to data scenario questions. Part II of this report provides material that can be used in training teachers on the use of data to guide instruction. It contains the seven data scenarios used in the exploratory substudy, along with guidance on how a professional development provider can use the scenarios as part of teacher training or teacher learning community activities and the particular points that should be looked for in teachers' responses to each scenario.
(pdf, 954kb)

National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices. (2012). Using data to guide state education policy and practice. Washington, DC: Author.
In fewer than 10 years, states and districts have taken bold steps to build and improve systems that collect data about students, staffing and expenditures, but the data do not often provide adequate information to guide policy and practice. Increasing amounts of data are now available to parents, educators, researchers and policymakers. However, it has not been fully utilized because critical data are not collected, which can limit policymakers and educators ability to diagnose problems and offer solutions. This brief offers practical policy options to remove those obstacles and ensure the right data are being captured and interpreted. This brief outlines how governors can promote the greater use of data in their states by: (1) Collecting more actionable data designed to meet identified stakeholder questions, such as information on students' mastery of standards, the effects of academic interventions on student performance and a clearer link between school and district expenditures and student performance; (2) Linking multiple data systems through the adoption and use of common, open data standards; and (3) Providing new tools for aggregating and analyzing data that ease educators' ability to offer individualized instruction and support policymakers' ability to monitor performance.
(pdf, 243kb)

Shepard, L., Davidson, K., &Bowman, R. (2011). How middle school mathematics teachers use interim and benchmark assessment data. Los Angeles, CA: University of California at Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing.
In 2001, the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act intensified the pressure on school districts to raise test scores, close achievement gaps, and turn around low-performing schools. In response, a large number of school districts have adopted interim or benchmark assessments to be administered periodically throughout the school year in anticipation of annual state tests. This report focuses on middle-school mathematics teachers' uses of interim and benchmark assessment results. We present findings from two-stage interviews with 30 teachers in seven districts across two states. While teachers' uses of assessment information varied, few gained substantive insights about students' mathematical understanding. Instead, teachers most frequently retaught standards or items with the lowest scores and focused on procedural competence. Although many teachers expressed an interest in using assessment results to inform instruction, they reported minimal professional development to this end, and often had a different understanding regarding the intended use of the assessments than did district leaders.
(pdf, 969kb)


The Data Quality Campaign
The Data Quality Campaign offers a number of resources that may be useful.