Researchers Examine Data-Driven Decision Making in Education

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WestEd created the Data for Decisions Initiative to help educators, policymakers, and researchers increase understanding and capacity to use data for continuous improvement. As part of this effort, WestEd researchers contributed to 6 of the 11 articles in a special issue of the Teachers College Record dedicated to the use of data in education.

The Teachers College Record is a journal of research, analysis, and commentary in the field of education. It has been published continuously for the past 115 years.

The topic of data in education has attracted considerable attention from policymakers over the past decade. As the introductory article by Ellen Mandinach of WestEd and Edith Gummer indicates, there are still very few examples of data-driven decision making in education, which makes it difficult to test the logic model that data use positively impacts teachers’ practice and student performance.

This special issue of the Teaches College Record highlights the research, theory, and practice about data use. The articles fall into three categories: a focus on teachers, collaborative inquiry, and data teams.

Here is the list of Teachers College Record articles by WestEd’s Mandinach, Martin Orland, Nancy Gerzon, and Candice Bocala. Please note that a subscription is required to read the full journal articles.

Data-Driven Decision Making: Components of the Enculturation of Data Use in Education
By Ellen Mandinach and Edith Gummer
“Introduction to the special issue on data-driven decision making and the components needed to enculturate data use in education. The article briefly examines the landscape of existing literature and positions the papers for the special issue.”

Research and Policy Perspectives on Data-Based Decision Making in Education
By Martin Orland
“This article summarizes some significant insights of articles in this issue from the perspective of public policy, emphasizing their potential resonance in today’s policy environment in using data for program improvement as well as accountability purposes.”

Building a Conceptual Framework for Data Literacy
By Edith Gummer and Ellen Mandinach
“This article presents a conceptual framework for a new construct, data literacy for teachers, and laying out the knowledge and skills teachers need to use data effectively and responsibly. The framework emerges from a domain analysis, but the complex construct requires additional discussions to refine and reorganize it.”

Structuring Professional Learning to Develop a Culture of Data Use: Aligning Knowledge From the Field and Research Findings
By Nancy Gerzon
“This article proposes a conceptual framework for school and district data use practices based on an analysis of current research. The author outlines considerations for professional learning for each of the five framework elements and closes with a set of questions that may help to highlight future research needs in the area of school-level data use.”

How Can Schools of Education Help to Build Educators’ Capacity to Use Data? A Systemic View of the Issue
By Ellen Mandinach, Jeremy Friedman, and Edith Gummer
“This article reports on a three-part study about how schools of education are preparing teacher candidates to use data effectively and responsibly. The study consisted of a survey to a nationally representative sample of schools of education, a review of select syllabi, and an examination of state licensure and certification requirements. This article provides a context for why schools of education can and must play an important role in preparing teachers to use data.”

Teaching Educators Habits of Mind for Using Data Wisely
By Candice Bocala and Kathryn Boudett
“This essay describes the habits of mind that underlie data literacy courses offered by the Data Wise Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and how those preparing educators can incorporate these habits into instructional design. The habits include: shared commitment to action, assessment, and adjustment; intentional collaboration; and relentless focus on evidence.”

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