Putting Data Into Practice

Lessons From New York City

Reports & Briefs | | October 26, 2010
Report Cover for 'Putting Data Into Practice'

Over the past decade, school districts and states have made impressive advances in collecting and managing data used for accountability purposes. By the year 2011, all 50 states will have systems to track students from year to year. But in most states and districts, all the data generated by these systems flows only one way: up.

Putting Data Into Practice, written by Managing Director Bill Tucker, looks at New York City's efforts to create an evidence-based and collaborative teaching culture. Few other districts have embraced the use of data like the nation’s largest school system. As such, its experience offers valuable lessons for other schools and systems seeking to maximize the use of data to drive and inform classroom-level instruction:

First, even if the technology works, it holds little value unless it is flexible and relevant—and it incorporates the sort of fine-grained information that teachers really want and need. And second, building a data system is only the first step—building the conditions and demand for data-based analysis is often more difficult than collecting the data itself.

The country is now entering the second phase of a costly and concerted push to use data to improve educational outcomes. As this case study shows, the challenge is no longer whether to build institutional data systems, but how to use the data that the best of these systems provide to make a difference in the classroom and boost outcomes for every student.

This report was funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Education Sector thanks the foundation for their support. The views expressed in the paper are those of the author alone.