Leading with Data

By White, Vicki | Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Leading with Data


White, Vicki, Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy


Keywords: Data processing, Decision making, School improvement programs, Data-based decision making, School management and organization

Goldring, E. & Berends, M. (2009). Leading with data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

During the past several decades public schools in America have embarked on a series of reform efforts targeted at improving student achievement. As public schools continue to implement the school improvement efforts needed to comply with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates for increased accountability, they recognize the need to ensure that school improvement efforts are both rigorous and relevant to the educational standards set within their state (Daggett, 2000). School improvement efforts must not only focus on meaningful goals, but they must also use the increasingly limited school resources to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning environment within them. Schools must provide students with rigorous content, an effective instructional program and curriculum that support state educational standards and expectations, and the ability to demonstrate mastery of these standards through state assessments. The role of school improvement has become more critical as schools move from the traditional environment based on intuition to one that is accountable to its constituents (MCREL, 2003).

The increased visibility of school performance that resulted from NCLB mandates has made the public school administrator the primary focus for public scrutiny. Successful school administrators are expected to lead the charge towards reform within their schools. As a result, the principal's role has become more complex, requiring more involvement in setting goals, monitoring student progress, promoting professional learning communities, providing opportunities for collaboration and professional development, creating partnerships with parents and community members, and influencing classroom instruction and alignment of curriculum with standards (Marzano, 2003). Many public school principals have turned to data-based decision making in an effort to understand where they are and where they need to go. They are now using the wealth of data that has resulted from increased accountability to identify areas for improvement, develop appropriate interventions, better allocate scarce resources, improve the instructional capacity within their school, and evaluate the effectiveness of their decisions (Goldring and Berends, 2009).

Leading With Data provides the school administrator with a systematic approach for the use of data-based decision making to guide their school improvement efforts. The authors, Ellen Goldring and Mark Berends, provide readers a model for engaging in data-based decision making within their schools in order to align school improvement efforts with the school's mission and goals, the requirements set forth through district and state standards and curriculum, the instructional capacity within the school and district, available resources, and the overall school learning community.

Both Ellen Goldring and Mark Berends have a wealth of experience with school reform efforts. As a professor of educational policy and leadership at the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Goldring has focused her research efforts on school leadership, particularly the changing the role of the school principal and relationships with schools, families, and communities. Mark Berends is the director of the National Center on School Choice and also the director of the Center of Research on Educational Opportunity at the University of Notre Dame where he serves as a professor of sociology. Dr. Berends' research centers on the relationship between student achievement and the school organization and instruction. The combination of their two areas of expertise has resulted in a practical handbook that provides both applications and theoretical research.

Through Leading With Data, the authors guide the reader through the data-based decision making process by breaking chapters in four key sections; improving schools with data, collecting data for school improvement and student learning, analyzing data for school improvement and student learning, and using data for decision making. …

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