Central office data use : a focus on district and school goals
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This study examined the data use of central office administrators working in the Curriculum and Instruction Department of a school district. The purpose of this work was to broaden the knowledge base of data use and of the integral role the central office plays in the district-wide use of data to improve teaching and learning. Two research questions guided the study: (a) How do central office personnel involved in curriculum and instruction use data to support district goals of improved student achievement, and (b) how do central office personnel involved in curriculum and instruction use data to support campus goals of improved student achievement? A qualitative and quantitative data collection process with a single-case study approach included focus groups, individual interviews, and a survey instrument. The data from these components were coded, analyzed, and translated into themes and findings using a 9-step constant-comparative process. This process provided rich description and a comprehensive evaluation of findings to answer the research questions. Findings regarding the use of data within the department of curriculum and instruction at the central office revealed that administrators most often took on the role of data provider. The central office provided reports both to campuses and to comply with federal and state regulations and funding requirements; provided professional development to principals, teachers, and instructional specialists; provided information about student achievement to parents and the greater community; and encouraged the use of data and highlighted the value of data use to inform instructional choices. Further analysis of the data revealed barriers that inhibit the systemic use of data and the ability of school districts to become truly data informed: lack of a common vision for data use, creation of data silos that reduce the ability to collaborate and make cooperative data-based decisions, too much data for consideration, and fragmented implementation of the goal-setting process. These findings contribute to the current literature by demonstrating the importance of the central office in data use. In conclusion, what central office administrators do with data matters, and how the central office uses data to support teacher and principal quality is critical in a district focused on improving teaching and student learning.
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