Leadership Skills for Supporting Learning: School Leaders Need to Understand the Skills It Takes to Use School Data as the Centerpiece for Decision Making around Student Achievement

By Price, William J.; Burton, Ella M. | Leadership, November-December 2004 | Go to article overview

Leadership Skills for Supporting Learning: School Leaders Need to Understand the Skills It Takes to Use School Data as the Centerpiece for Decision Making around Student Achievement


Price, William J., Burton, Ella M., Leadership


If you are a principal assigned to a school that is not meeting achievement standards, you have lots of company. As a result of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the parallel state-adopted accountability models, many schools throughout the country are now designated as underperforming schools. These are schools, perhaps like yours, that have not been able to demonstrate acceptable levels of achievement for all groups of students as measured by accountability standards.

If the principal's job were not already tough enough in those schools, it is now made even more daunting by the task of figuring out how to develop a strategy for school improvement.

Sadly, many principals are simply ill-prepared to create and manage a building infrastructure that supports effective instruction and has as its constant focus the technical core of teaching and learning. The question, of course, is how does one create such an infrastructure?

While there are many leadership skills needed by the principal to support instructional improvement and student learning, for the purpose of this article we would suggest two specific skills that are absolutely essential. The first is the ability to collect and manage information about your students, staff, building and community. The second skill is the ability to analyze and use this data to effectively assess areas where students are not achieving to expected levels of proficiency.

Careful analysis of school data should be used to inform actual decisions by the principal and school staff--decisions that lead to the development of clear objectives and strategies to improve teaching and learning.

Creating a school-wide database

So where do you begin? To make data collection and analysis less mysterious, it might be helpful to use as a metaphor the instrument panel of your car. Each time you take your vehicle out for a drive, you are actually managing and analyzing data. The primary source of data is the speedometer, which tells you the speed that you are traveling in miles per hour. That data is only meaningful, however, after you mentally process that information in the context of your knowledge, experience and objectives. For example, upon analysis you may realize that you are traveling too fast for the road conditions, which require you to decrease your speed to a safe level. Or you may realize that you are driving too far beneath the speed limit and backing up traffic on a busy freeway.

Similar analyses are done using other gauges on the instrument panel and a host of computerized warning lights that alert you to potential problems that will require your attention in order to return to optimal performance. Whether we realize it or not, every day we collect, process and analyze information as we go about our lives, and so should it be for schools.

The first question for the principal to consider is what kind of data will be needed to accurately describe the students, staff and community that, upon analysis, will assist in discovering specific areas needing improvement. A review of recent literature on the use of data for decision making in schools suggests the importance of perception data, process data, demographic data, attendance and behavior data and results data.

Perception data

Perception data describes the various stakeholders' perceptions of the school as a learning community and measures the school's self-perception against the community's image of the school. Perception data is usually collected from various stakeholders in the school community through the use of carefully constructed surveys and questionnaires. If you are not adept at developing such questionnaires or surveys, help is readily available.

Such data generally reveals values and beliefs that constituents hold about how business is conducted in the school and the importance given to academics, school environment, leadership and communication, as well as the degree of parent satisfaction with the school and staff. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Leadership Skills for Supporting Learning: School Leaders Need to Understand the Skills It Takes to Use School Data as the Centerpiece for Decision Making around Student Achievement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.