By Diana Nunnaley, Director, TERC’s Using Data
Two thoughtful building administrators wanting to invest in a meaningful and effective initiative for data use in their schools recently came to me and asked. Who is the best person to lead a school’s data initiative?
Both of them, in their initial thinking, wondered if the best approach might be to have a district or building “data person” present analyzed data findings, student learning problems, and identified solutions to the faculty. While this solution might address budget and scheduling constraints, in my experience it falls short of building and sustaining meaningful data use in a school. I have found that, in many cases, the “data person” is better with formulas and answers than with helping a broader group of stakeholders ask the right questions in order for them to recognize their own place in the CAUSE, as well as their place in the SOLUTION, toward enacting improved student achievement.
So…who IS the best person to lead a school’s data work? The best person is really a data team, led by a designated data coach who assumes the responsibility of organizing data meetings and resources, but who shares responsibility for meeting facilitation, data analysis, verifying causes of student learning problems, and identifying solutions. Together, the team members participate in focused professional development that builds common vision, language, and facility with an iterative process for engaging in data dialog. The REAL question is, “Who should be on the data team?” (more…)