Using the right data in the right ways – To Our Readers

Using the right data in the right ways – To Our Readers – Brief Article

Don Iglesias

Dear Colleague:

School leaders are mired in mountains of data. But rather than succumb to “data mania,” our challenge is to use the right data in the right ways.

“The newest merit badge for school leaders identifies them as `data-driven decision-makers,'” writes Kate Jamentz of WestEd on page 8. But schools that are using data effectively don’t merely know how many students have reached certain standards, they “understand the factors or conditions that contribute to or inhibit improvement,” Jamentz writes.

Effective school leaders are not content to rely only on data from the SAT-9 to drive instruction. “Annual norm-referenced test scores are not useful — in fact, are often misused — to plan instructional programs for individual children,” writes Jamentz.

Dave Ackley of Fontana USD agrees. “State test scores do not reveal how the test content relates to student mastery of specific state standards,” he writes on page 28. Therefore, their use for determining local program effectiveness, or for providing ongoing information to improve student achievement, is limited.

So what does work? In Clovis, educators are using customized, on-demand tests that are aligned with state standards and also can measure progress toward passing the High School Exit Exam.

In Monrovia, teachers work with administrators to analyze several sources of data, develop student learning performance targets, select a set of teaching strategies and monitor progress.

Hesperia USD has found success by adapting an alignment model that worked for a district with similar demographics in Brazosport, Texas.

As you read about these and other efforts, I believe you will share my pride in the active role California’s school leaders are taking to ensure that good data is being used in exciting ways to guide our students toward excellent learning opportunities.


Don Iglesias ACSA President

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