Ensuring the effective use of inquiry and data based decision making district-wide involves many types of expertise. One of the most critical skill sets needed at Benton Community in our data team work is the ability to collaboratively develop and carry-out our vision for data use within our district.
- The goal of data teams at Benton Community is to develop a data-driven culture among all educators that seeks to improve teaching and learning for all students.
One of the research base we tapped into for our thought process behind data teams is from Steve Ventura and his work around collaborative data teams. Steve states that one of the critical components of data teams is having defined protocols and using those protocols consistently. He also shares change and instructional improvements comes from building new knowledge based on new learnings, not solely on old practices or existing knowledge.
Another research base for our thought process is the theory of action depicted in Figure 1 Data Use Theory of Action developed by Public Consulting Group. This theory describes three foundational conditions which support data informed decisions: usefulness of data, capacity of stakeholders to use data collected, and a system culture that supports and has the expectation of using data to make informed decisions. All of these components, when focused on by the entire school system, will ultimately impact student outcomes
According to this theory of action, if the necessary conditions for data use (data usefulness, data capacity, and data culture) are in place, and data are being used to formulate policy, evaluate and design programs, guide practice, and place students in appropriate instructional settings, then increased student achievement will result.
Research also suggests that for data use to impact positively student achievement, it must be sustained over time, be part of a systemic process with all levels of the school, and most importantly be student centered. Our Instructional Coaches and Administrators help tremendously with the data team process at Benton Community. They integrate themselves into the fabric of our schools and help teachers reflect on their practice based on data.
When we started working in data teams our district created a template that looked like this:
and after we saw Linn Mar's example of putting a face on the data some elementary buildings have morphed into the data team process depicted below:
and our MS/HS have been using data to determine what skill development is needed during Bobcat Time and here are some of our results to date:
No matter what the outcome looks like -- focusing on students and their strengths and areas needed for improvement is vital to our core values and ultimately our student success.