In September I had the extreme pleasure of hiking in the redwoods in Humboldt County, California.  The drive through them called the Avenue of the Giants isn’t that long mileage-wise, but you can’t just drive by the trees. My sister and I hiked off the road several times to see what was beyond the pavement including a 9.5-mile hike to see the “tallest tree” and the fern forests.  My favorite picture is my sister stretched around the base of the biggest tree – which made me think about the challenges we face in getting our arms around helping all kids learn.


One challenge we’ve identified is how little teachers engage with good research to help them challenge long-held beliefs and to extend their thinking about best practices for their particular group of students.

A student in our Using Data Online course captured it so well in a dialogue about how to use research to verify causes. “I do think teachers will be better consumers of research when the research is personal and addresses problems they have identified through their data analysis”. The key here is that the teachers are the ones analyzing their data to uncover the student learning problems. Through skillful facilitation of the data dialogue, teachers will begin to demand the research that helps them make sense of their evidence.

In the report “What School Boards Need to Know: Data Conversations” on page 8, teachers top the list (thank goodness) of the stakeholders who need access to the data. And as you’ll see, it requires more than just handing them a printed report