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ERIC Number: ED516494
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Feb
Pages: 122
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 43
Teachers' Ability to Use Data to Inform Instruction: Challenges and Supports
Means, Barbara; Chen, Eva; DeBarger, Angela; Padilla, Christine
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education
The national Study of Education Data Systems and Decision Making documented the availability and features of education data systems and the prevalence and nature of data-informed decision making in districts and schools. That study, like past research, found that teachers' likelihood of using data in decision making is affected by how confident they feel about their knowledge and skills in data analysis and data interpretation (U.S. Department of Education 2008). Unfortunately, teacher training programs generally have not addressed data skills and data-informed decision-making processes. Understanding the nature of teachers' proficiencies and difficulties in data use is important for providing appropriate training and support to teachers, because they are expected to use student data as a basis for improving the effectiveness of their practice. This report describes an exploratory substudy on teachers' thinking about data conducted in conjunction with the larger Study of Education Data Systems and Decision Making data collection and the implications of the substudy findings for teacher preparation and support. Teachers' thinking about student data was investigated by administering interviews using a set of hypothetical education scenarios accompanied by standard data displays and questions to teachers in schools within case study districts selected as exemplars of active data use through an expert nomination process. Data scenarios were administered to both individual teachers and small groups of educators who typically work together. Conducting both individual and group interviews provided information about how teachers reason independently about data as well as about how they build on each other's understanding when they explore data in small groups. Part I of this report describes the responses that 50 individual teachers and 72 small groups gave to the data scenario questions. The teachers interviewed are not a nationally representative sample, but they do provide a detailed initial look at how these particular teachers think about student data in schools that were thought to be ahead of most schools in the nation with respect to data use. This detailed description of teacher thinking can help inform those responsible for training teachers in data-driven decision making about the kinds of difficulties and misconceptions teachers are likely to encounter. Part II of this report provides material that can be used in training teachers on the use of data to guide instruction. It contains the seven data scenarios used in the exploratory substudy, along with guidance on how a professional development provider can use the scenarios as part of teacher training or teacher learning community activities and the particular points that should be looked for in teachers' responses to each scenario. (Contains 17 exhibits, 3 figures, 6 tables and 8 footnotes.)
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education. Available from ED Pubs, Education Publications Center, US Department of Education, NTIS, P.O. Box 22207, Alexandria, VA 22304. Tel: 877-433-7827; Fax: 703-605-6794; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Department of Education (ED), Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development; SRI International
IES Cited: ED556126