Swimming in the Depths: Educators’ Ongoing Effective Use of Data to Guide Decision Making
Educators are awash with data. Classroom teachers calculate student grades using the data they collect: attendance, participation points, test scores, and homework completion. School administrators track diﬀerent data in their daily work: discipline referrals, average daily attendance, school budgets, and expenses related to extracurricular programs. At the district level, data are more departmentalized: with the Personnel Department calculating salaries, beneﬁts packages, and retirement accounts; those in Instruction tracking expenditures on curricular materials and professional development, and Special Services keeping tabs on students receiving additional assistance, completing annual reports to document compliance with a variety of laws. With all these data, one might expect to ﬁnd educators conﬁdent in their data acumen. Sadly, the opposite is more likely to be the case. As a public spotlight is focused on AYP-based school performance data, teachers and administrators all too often are caught ﬂoundering in the depths, as waves of data threaten to drown them.