The Need to Use Evidence in School-Based K–12 Improvement Efforts

In this brief paper, the author suggests that "to empower teachers to use data effectively, schools and districts need to engage in the systematic collection and analysis of evidence as part of an ongoing school improvement cycle." Based on research and practice, she identifies and explains "four steps that school leaders, supported by their central office," should "take to launch and implement this work effectively and sustain it over time to lead to improvement." These steps are:

  1. identify a clear instructional focus to which all teachers can align their work;
  2. lead a schoolwide process of improvement that facilitates ongoing learning as part of a plan, do, study, act cycle;
  3. collect and analyze multiple types of evidence from teachers and students; and
  4. build a strong leadership team to guide the work of improvement in professional learning communities schoolwide. 
Content Comments 

The author's goals are indirectly stated and nicely achieved through thoughtful reasoning and personal experiences. While her recommendations are not necessarily innovative, nor does she back them with substantial research or anecdotal evidence, the author drives home the key point that true student learning improvements require a schoolwide approach rather than narrow single strategies. Her use of the term "analysis-paralysis" emphasizes the value of making data helpful not just for students but for an entire school. Communications quality is excellent. This is article is easy to read and devoid of most educational jargon. Users may find this resource a good supplement to their data use process. It is not a step-by-step data guide, and evidence of effectiveness is not provided. The author could have enhanced the article by using some real-life, personal experiences.