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Building a Better Relationship between Education and Data

Author(s): Center on Education Policy
Published: February 19, 2015

Empowering Educators to Lead the Way on Data Use

Despite the presence of technology and data in almost every aspect of our lives, the K-12 education sector is still grappling with how to effectively use data to support instruction and student learning.  While some important progress has been made, many educators still need support--including time, training and resources--on how to manage and use data.

On  March 17, 2015, the Center on Education Policy (CEP), in collaboration with Renaissance Learning and the Data Quality Campaign, convened a conversation on the campus of the George Washington University about empowering educators to lead the way in using data to improve classroom instruction and student learning. The conversation looked at state and local leadership on data use, including the benefits and challenges associated with new technologies that process and organize school data. Issues covered include:

  • Data and assessment literacy: Empowering teachers and administrators
  • State leadership: Creating the conditions and culture for effective data use
  • More than just numbers: The power and potential of data visualization


Rebecca Thessin, Ed.D., a panelist at this event wrote a paper called The Need to Use Evidence in School-Based K-12 Improvement Efforts:  When data is used as part of an ongoing cycle of improvement that involves the regular collection and systematic analysis of evidence, teachers can change their instructional practice to improve student achievement. To do so, the school leader must share leadership of a schoolwide process of improvement with teachers. Most critically, central office must give priority to developing the skills of principals to lead the difficult but rewarding work of improving instruction and schools.  Rebecca Thessin, Assistant Professor of Educational Administration at the George Washington University shares her thoughts and experience on how to empower teachers to use data effectively and how schools and districts can engage in the systematic collection and analysis of evidence as part of an ongoing school improvement cycle. Dr. Thessin identifies four steps that school leaders, supported by their central office, can take to launch and implement this work effectively and sustain it over time to lead to improvement.

You can view the video of the event and download Rebecca Thessin's full paper below:

Video of the webcast

Thessin Paper

Download files:

Agenda and Bios (PDF format, 132 KB)

Thessin Paper (PDF format, 236 KB)