Building leaders are key to sustaining a cycle of instructional improvement. Inside every school there are numerous intersecting and overlapping initiatives underway. Teachers need to design and maintain their own personal professional development plans. Supervisors initiate informal walkthroughs to monitor classroom practice and also conduct formal observations of teachers in their classrooms. School Improvement Committees complete state required School Improvement Plans (SIPs). Specialists design and update Individual Learning Plans for students. And now are asked to drill down into our data to uncover specific student learning problems and look for the root causes.

Tying all of these elements together into one continuous cycle of improvement becomes an easier task when the recommendations that inform all of the above activities are the direct result of teachers analyzing their students’ data, studying the research, designing their action plans and monitoring plans. This is the basis for the Using Data process.

In the words of Aileen Finnegan, a principal who implemented Using Data in her school: “Teachers initiated some innovative teaching strategies based on the data. For example, when they saw poor performance with the fourth grade, they piloted gender-based groupings for these students the next school year…They came up with the idea, found the research and received approval from the district. It came from the bottom up and led to improved learning and a significant success.”