During the past year as I’ve juggled travel and teaching and responding to questions regarding schools’ use of data, it has occurred to me that a blog might be just the medium for sharing that information to a wider group of practitioners. Emails go out one at a time or to a small group of teachers in one location. A blog makes it possible to organize those questions and answers and make them available to an additional audience of data users.P6220219 This blog will focus on the use of data by teachers and school administrators to improve teaching and learning and to result in improved achievement for all kids and the closing of achievement gaps.

You won’t find a scholarly presentation of ideas here, nor will you see a treatise on the statistics underlying school data. What you will find are answers to many of the questions that come up both during our professional development sessions and after the sessions, during data team meetings when teachers begin to ask questions about their data and decide what it means. Our experience is based on 10 years of working directly with school staff and their data. Using Data has been proven to develop the capacity of school-based teams to create meaning from their data, to take collective responsibility for achieving the learning goals they have set for their students, and to continuously interrogate their data to find out “Why?” and then to act on those discoveries by changing what they are doing in classrooms.

We’ve learned a great deal in our work. We continue to learn from the data coaches we coach. I hope this blog will be a help to you, too.  My goal is that it will also serve to help me wrestle with the thornier issues that come up in the process of training data coaches and that it will give me the opportunity to better articulate the actual work of Using Data. It is my sincere hope that through this blog and the larger audience we’re able to reach, more teachers will begin to see the importance of collaborative inquiry in the process of analyzing student data. I hope we can learn to grapple with some of the toughest questions we must ask ourselves as educators, and in the end, improve achievement for all of our students.