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A Multi-Site Case Study: Acculturating Middle Schools to Use Data-Driven Instruction for Improved Student Achievement
James, Rebecca C.
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In the modern era of high-stakes accountability, test data have become much more than a simple comparison (Schmoker, 2006; Payne & Miller, 2009). The information provided in modern data reports has become an invaluable tool to drive instruction in classrooms. However, there is a lack of good training for educators to evaluate data and translate findings into solid practices that can improve student learning (Blair, 2006; Dynarski, 2008; Light, Wexler, & Heinze, 2005; Payne & Miller, 2009). Some schools are good at collecting data, but often fall short at what to do next. It is the role of the principal to serve as an instructional leader and guide teachers to the answer the reoccurring question of "now what?" The purpose of this study was to investigate ways in which principals build successful data-driven instructional systems within their schools using a qualitative multi-site case study method. This research utilized a triangulation approach with structured interviews, on-site visits, and document reviews from various middle school supervisors, principals, and teachers. The findings are presented in four common themes and patterns identified as essential components administrators used to implement data-driven instructional systems to improve student achievement. The themes are 1) administrators must clearly define the vision and set the expectation of using data to improve student achievement, 2) administrators must take an active role in the data-driven process, 3) data must be easily accessible to stakeholders, and 4) stakeholders must devote time on a regular basis to the data-driven process. The four themes led to the conclusion of ten common steps administrators can use to acculturate their school or school division with the data-driven instruction process.
- Doctoral Dissertations