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ERIC Number: ED552131
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 271
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2678-9304-8
Designing School Systems to Encourage Data Use and Instructional Improvement: A Comparison of Educational Organizations
Farrell, Caitlin C.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Southern California
Increased accountability through federal and state education policies has resulted in a growing demand for educators to access, understand, and utilize the various types of data to adapt their practice. These data include student work, district benchmarks, observation of instruction, and high-stakes state assessments, among others. Despite the widespread belief that educators' data use can improve student performance, little is known about how organizational context impacts this process. This multi-case, qualitative study addresses this gap by examining two types of systems: traditional school districts and charter management organizations (CMOs). Using a framework derived from knowledge management theory, it offers a systems-level approach to consider how organizational resources--human capital, technology and tools, and organizational practices and policies--are marshaled to support effective data use. First, analysis found that educators in all four school systems used six main types of data to inform the literacy instruction: classroom, common grade, teacher observation, system, high-stakes state assessments, and college-ready indicators. Across all systems, there was a disconnect between school site and system educators concerning the use of classroom and system data. While all four systems attended to high-stakes state assessment results, the CMOs had greater reported use of teacher observation data and college-ready indicators. The host of data was used for multiple purposes falling into six categories or "models." For the accountability-achievement, student learning, and instructional reflection models, data was instrumental in informing instruction. All four school systems engaged behaviors of accountability-achievement data use, while the two CMOs used formal teacher observation data to reflect on instruction. In the other three emerging models of data use--bureaucratic-compliance, positioning, and signaling--data were used for compliance purposes, as evidence for an argument or agenda, or to signal to the external community. Looking to the resources mobilized, similarities arose across all four school systems. Different resources supported the data-use cycle at different leverage points, with design features of the resources shaping how data were gathered, accessed, and used. Second, technology/tools and organizational practices and policies were necessary but not sufficient; investments in human capital were critical components to this work. On the whole, CMOs stood out in their commitments to human capital, technology and tools, and organizational processes and policies. These dynamics of data use and resource allocation could not be understood without attending to the organizational and environmental setting in which they unfolded. When considering the "embedded context" for data use, organizational context, local political circumstances, state/district financial environment, and federal/state accountability demands were important contextual conditions that both enabled and constrained data use and resource allocation. Finally, this study lays the groundwork for the diffusion of promising practices across differing types of school systems and within the reform community. It also develops directions for future research on accountability policies, data initiatives, and alternatives to traditional forms of school management. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A