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DEVELOPING THE CONDITIONS FOR DATA DRIVEN CHANGE TO IMPACT STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND BUILD TEACHER CAPACITY

Authors:
  • Australian College of Researchers

Abstract

Schools have been caught up in responding to the calls of external accountability. This has challenged school leaders to establish data gathering practices that ultimately lend themselves to creating school wide instructional systems to impact teaching and learning and offer a consistent instructional approach. This paper outlines how one school established a data driven approach to improve teacher performance by focusing on key elements using a literature focused approach as a catalyst for driving new innovation. The paper considers how a data driven focus (DDF) allows leaders to intentionally and systematically improve student learning. The paper begins by unpacking the new focus on instructional leadership. It unveils how leaders are required to create the foundation to develop a DDF as a vehicle to facilitate information about student achievement within the school. The second part of the paper reports on the change process used to implement DDF as guided by key elements. It entails a 6-step cycle involving 1) developing a desire for change, 2) reflection on data, 3) aligning school programs & curricula, 4) Understanding by Design instructional practices and professional development, 5) provision of feedback, and 6) nurturing teacher implementation. It reviews how one school, through the focus of improving instruction and intentionally using key literature-based concepts, developed a raised awareness for using curriculum and assessment data to guide decision making. This paper provides a rich example of how a school can facilitate and sustain a data-based decision-making culture in schools. The paper concludes that being a data-focused school is a possibility for each and every school.
PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 2454-5899
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Jake Madden, 2019
Volume 5 Issue 2, pp. 542-560
Date of Publication: 21st September 2019
DOI-https://dx.doi.org/10.20319/pijss.2019.52.542560
This paper can be cited as: Madden, J., (2019). Developing the Conditions for Data Driven Change to
Impact Student Achievement and Build Teacher Capacity. PEOPLE: International Journal of Social
Sciences, 5(2), 542-560.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International
License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ or send a
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DEVELOPING THE CONDITIONS FOR DATA DRIVEN
CHANGE TO IMPACT STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND BUILD
TEACHER CAPACITY
Jake Madden
Executive Principal, Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi, UAE
jake.madden@alyasat-school.com
Abstract
Schools have been caught up in responding to the calls of external accountability. This has
challenged school leaders to establish data gathering practices that ultimately lend themselves to
creating school wide instructional systems to impact teaching and learning and offer a consistent
instructional approach. This paper outlines how one school established a data driven approach to
improve teacher performance by focusing on key elements using a literature focused approach as
a catalyst for driving new innovation. The paper considers how a data driven focus (DDF) allows
leaders to intentionally and systematically improve student learning. The paper begins by
unpacking the new focus on instructional leadership. It unveils how leaders are required to create
the foundation to develop a DDF as a vehicle to facilitate information about student achievement
within the school. The second part of the paper reports on the change process used to implement
DDF as guided by key elements. It entails a 6-step cycle involving 1) developing a desire for
change, 2) reflection on data, 3) aligning school programs & curricula, 4) Understanding by
Design instructional practices and professional development, 5) provision of feedback, and 6)
nurturing teacher implementation. It reviews how one school, through the focus of improving
PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 2454-5899
Available Online at: http://grdspublishing.org/ 543
instruction and intentionally using key literature-based concepts, developed a raised awareness
for using curriculum and assessment data to guide decision making. This paper provides a rich
example of how a school can facilitate and sustain a data-based decision-making culture in
schools. The paper concludes that being a data-focused school is a possibility for each and every
school.
Keywords
Data Driven Change, Teacher Development, School Leadership, School Improvement, Research
Guided
1. Introduction
Schooling around the world has seen the public arena call for more accountability and
transparency on student learning. This has been influenced by the rise of international league tables
which has challenged educational systems to become more evidenced based in their strategic
planning and decision making. Such moves have put the spotlight on teacher performance and,
possibly more importantly, what schools are doing that leads to significant school improvement.
An increasing number of studies (Sims, 2016; Lee, & Reeves, 2012; Rustique-Forrester,
2005; Diamond & Spillane, 2004) have been reporting that high-stakes approach to accountability
have led to a narrowing of the curriculum and instructional dynamics. Furthermore, there is the
marginalization of low-performing students, and a climate perceived by teachers to be less tolerant
of students with lower academic levels and presenting with behavioral difficulties. While the aim
of school accountability policies is to ensure every student receives high quality instruction and
attains high levels of achievement, the consequence of such policies is a narrowing of the teaching
and learning.
Recent research (Piyaman, Hallinger, & Viseshsiri, 2017; Christensen & Lægreid, 2015)
has been investigating differences in school organization processes associated with learning-
centered leadership as a means to counteract the debilitating impact of increased accountability
measures. With principals and school leaders under pressure to not only lead schools but also
ensure high student achievement, the spotlight on best practice in raising attainment is beginning
to shine more brightly.
During this era of high-stakes accountability in education, the need for accurately
understanding student, teacher, and school data is of utmost importance. However, although
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schools are flush with data, the challenge for school leaders is being able to properly interpret and
use the data for improving student (and teacher) learning (Valli & Buese, 2007).
2. The Role of the School Principal
In his text, Rethinking Leadership, Sergiovanni (2007) offers a critique on the complexity
of leading schools and professes that schools need special leadership given the diverse roles
principals must take on to effect school improvement. He draws a parallel between the principal
and an architect. Like the architect who has to draw blueprints by scrutinising the many dimensions
and regulations that go into developing buildings (eg electricity, sewerage, fire, construction
materials, plumbing) the principal must:
be able to forward plan and create strategic plans,
make decisions about priorities of the school,
understand how to use data and (most importantly) help teachers understand the data, and
focus on purpose of the school in order to prepare students for career pathways after
graduating from school
It is the third dot point that is of interest to this study. Just as the architect relies on the
performance of the various teams in order to achieve building success, the adoption of principal as
lead learner (Kelley & Peterson, 2007) is needed to help his/her teams build a quality curriculum,
instructional and assessment practices. The principal needs to draw the school teams together to
analyse the data to help make quality decisions.
While it goes without saying, school principals are pivotal in building and fostering a data
driven decision making culture. Numerous studies (Mandinach & Honey, 2008; Young, 2006;
Wayman, Stringfield, & Yakimowski, 2004; Diamond & Spillane, 2004) indicate a principal’s
importance in this arena can be categorised into a number of key priorities:
1. Setting the goals for data use within school,
2. Outlining the vision for the need of data driven decision making (DDDM),
3. Establishing distributed leadership for DDDM to take hold throughout the school,
4. Modeling effective data use and in enabling teachers to use technology to record and track
data,
5. Providing ongoing learning opportunities for teachers to discuss and analyze their students’
data, and
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6. Ensure professional development and teacher collaboration time is ‘protected and focused
on data use.
3. Sustaining School Improvement
However, adopting the principal position as a leader learner is not sufficient and is only
part of the equation. Aligned with the challenges of how to improve schools is the additional
challenge of sustaining improvement. The call for sustainability, which depends upon a school’s
internal capacity to maintain and support the work of teachers, is gathering momentum. Sustaining
student improvement is achieved through capacity building and preparing teachers themselves to
lead innovation and development (Harris, 2002). This supports the inference that, the significant
purpose of leadership distribution is in generating and sustaining improvement in schools.
Sustaining school improvement requires the leadership capacity of many staff members in
the school in contrast to the traditional view of leadership where only a few appointed people lead
(or manage the work of those below them). For developing such leadership capacity, there is
anecdotal evidence that specific factors are necessary. Teacher commitment is a major contribution
to improving the quality of teaching (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). It is suggested that analysing
the work function of teachers is the first step to introducing strategic structural change and
improvement.
Analysing work functions of teachers and developing leadership structures are crucial as
research highlights the effects of economic rationalism and government pressures now placed upon
schools. School leaders are required to address different forms of accountability and address the
external expectations placed on the school. If the promotion of student learning is the core mission
of schools, developing successful structures to reach high learning goals is incumbent upon all
members of the school community.
Katzenmeyer & Moller’s (2001) research on teacher leadership, an emerging trend in the
study of leadership, looks beyond the principal toward teachers who are, either consciously or
unconsciously, taking on leadership roles in schools. Many teachers, by collecting information
about what goes on in their classrooms, and by analysing and evaluating this information, identify
and explore the impact of their own teaching practices. Acting on this then leads to changes and
improvements in their teaching.
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4. The Rise of the Instructional Leader
While the teacher is the biggest influence of student achievement within the school (Hattie,
2012; Marzano, 2012), it is the responsibility of the school leaders to establish the working
conditions and organisation structures to help support the teacher. In some circles this focus on
instructional leadership is gaining momentum.
The rise of the principal as instructional leader began with school principals assuming a
more targeted instructional role across the school (Marks & Printy, 2003). An initial step in this
has been the engaging of teachers in focused (teaching and learning) tasks. More than simply
directing teachers, the principal is actively involved in conducting ongoing walk-throughs and
formal classroom observations. Add to this the engaging in dialogue with teachers and prividing
feedback about successful (and unsuccessful) instructional strategies and the provision of teacher
development, the resulting impact on student outcomes is well documented (Lynch, Madden &
Knight, 2014).
As schools become more “evidenced based” the role of leaders is becoming more fixated
on data, and its analysis. Although, responding to student achievement data is becoming a key
indicator of school quality it is only part of the instructional role of the principal. Hallinger (1983)
introduced the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS) comprising of 50
statements on principal instructional leadership behaviours. These statements are categorised into
three key dimensions; defining the school mission, managing the instructional program and
developing the school learning climate.
However, in recent times, Robinson, Lloyd and Rowe (2008) found that the impact of
instructional leadership was up to four times greater than that of transformational leadership.
However, given that school leadership is a difficult concept to define, the term “leadership for
learning” has an eclectic tone and includes features of instructional leadership, transformational
leadership, and distributed leadership. Thus, leadership for learning relies upon a broader
distribution of school leadership practices (Robinson et al, 2008). With the complexity of school
life, the principal needs the support of a team (of leaders) to achieve the school’s vision. The
question asked by principals of their colleagues in high performing schools is typically around
“how do we do it”.
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5. Data Driven Focus
In an era of information being at our fingertips through an explosion in assistive
technologies, schools have struggled to harness and interpret the vast amount of information
gathered. (Goren, 2010; Shen & Cooley, 2008; Shirley & Hargreaves, 2006). Moreover, as Shen
& Cooley (2008) illustrate, many teachers do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to
engage in data-driven decision making that supports their teaching and learning. Helen Timperley
(2009) states:
“For teachers to respond to student learning needs they need detailed information
about what their students know and can do through high-quality assessment data,
but they also need opportunities to develop their knowledge as they delve into
assessment information”
Consequently, teachers who are data driven, utilise multiple measures when assessing
school and student success. They are able to articulate the five key components of effective data-
driven education (Marsh & Farrell, 2015). These elements interact to enhance student learning and
to inform teacher practice. The five major elements of data-driven instruction, while self-
explanatory are not linear in their implementation. These elements interact to enhance student
learning and to inform teacher practice. They are:
having good baseline data to begin the “thinking” about building student (and school)
improvement plans,
designing measurable instructional goals to impact learning,
undertaking frequent formative assessment to keep the teacher updated in student progress
towards the learning goals (and to re-teach as necessary),
participation in professional learning communities to discuss student data and to moderate
both work samples and instructional techniques, and
providing focused instructional interventions to meet the specific needs of each individual
student.
Implementing a DDDM framework builds a pathway to meet the ever-increasing
accountability expectations for improving student achievement.
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6. Professional Development
The purpose of professional development is to improve knowledge and skills in order to
facilitate individual and school wide improvements. For teachers and school leaders to be as
effective as possible, they need to continually expand their knowledge and skills to implement the
best educational practices. At the centre of this intent is increasing student outcomes both in the
academic and non-academic arenas.
However, while the expectation placed upon schools to raise student attainment standards
is increasing, it is also evident that teachers do not have the appropriate skill set nor the mindset to
tackle a data collection, analysis and implementing informed decision making instructional
practices (Halverson, Grigg, Prichett & Thomas, 2007). To support teachers, the provision of
targeted job embedded professional development is seen as a more effective means of supporting
teacher development. More specifically, job-embedded professional development (JEPD) refers to
teacher learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching practice (Hunzicker, 2012). JEPD is
crafted by school leaders (and teachers themselves) to enhance content-specific instructional
practices. The heart of JEPD is the work of teachers identifying, assessing and developing
solutions for authentic and immediate problems of practice as part of a cycle of continuous
improvement (Hirsch, 2009).
7. School Context
The school has a 25-year history beginning as an Elementary school in a previous location.
With the move to a new site, the introduction of Middle school followed and in the last two years
has introduced Grades Nine and Ten. The final two years of school (Grade 11 and Grade 12) will
be registered over the next two years. The School is an inclusive school and the majority of students
enter school life below expected standards across most grades but make good progress relative to
their starting point.
Students come to school from not only the local area but also from neighbouring suburbs.
The school has increased its population by 41% since 2016 with approximately half the students
travelling past closer schools, crossing suburbs to attend the school. There is a strong demand for
KG1 (first year of school). The school population is predominantly Emirati.
While the enrolment is considered large for a (current) K-10 school, the school prides itself
on having a ‘small school’ feel. The school is organised into learning communities based on the
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American curriculum. With Elementary (K-5) Middle School (6-8) and High School (9-12) being
the three sections. The school aims to engage students in learning communities with a focus on
personalised learning.
8. Staff Diversity
Teachers at the school come from over 20 different countries, ranging from 3 years to 30
years of teaching experience. A majority of the teaching staff hold a Bachelor’s Degree (84%)
while 15% hold a Masters Degree and 1% have a doctoral qualification. While the school is an
English speaking school, UAE Ministry of Education mandated subjects (Arabic, Islamic Studies
and UAE Social Studies) are taught by Arabic speaking staff. Some members of the Arabic faculty
have very limited English.
Initial teacher performance measures, including formal appraisals, highlighted a diverse
approach to instruction in classrooms.
9. Research Questions
The focus of this paper is the impact of an educational change process leading to the
developing of a data driven decision making culture. The following questions guided the
development of the data driven decision making framework for the school:
1. How does the school leadership, in using literature, develop a culture of using data to drive
instructional practices?
2. To what extent do teachers use the data gathered on their classroom delivery to make
improvement in their teaching practice.
These questions were addressed using case study data from the K-12 international school.
This case study data was collected within the school over a three-year period from 2017-2019.
Interviews with the school leadership team and 40 teachers from Kindergarten, Elementary and
Middle/High School in a combination of interviews and focus groups were held. In addition, the
observation of classrooms and the observation of grade/subject level meetings focused on data use
was embarked upon in order to collect data to triangulate findings. This was followed by classroom
observations of visible learning taking place, the teachers’ use of differentiation, instructional
approach, how the teachers organised their classrooms for learning and how they engaged with
students. Finally, the analysis of school-based documents pertinent to the study was undertaken.
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10. Building a framework for DDF
As a new principal appointed to a rapidly growing school, initial observations and
walkthroughs yielded some startling data around teaching practices. Subsequent professional
development on instructional design and lesson delivery instituted the school’s pedagogical
framework for teaching and learning at the school known as “the 8 elements of an effective lesson”.
The school, in taking this reflective notion further, has instituted a Teacher as
Researcher/Reflective learner (TAR) program to interrogate instructional practices across the
school.
The problem is nested in the lack of skills teachers have in this area of inquiry learning.
Given that many teachers, particularly those that have completed their undergraduate studies over
five years ago, have not had much engagement or professional development in this arena, school
leaders have to intervene and meet teacher needs. Which leads me to our overarching research
question? How does a school develop the conditions to effectively use DDDM to enhance teacher
performance?
Given that the role of the school leader is to develop and sustain school structures and
cultures that foster individual and group learning (Bulach & Lunenburg, 2008; Lunenburg &
Ornstein, 2008), creating a framework where the focus on instructional data could flourish became
a priority for school leadership. The consequence of this priority was the establishment of an
environment in which new data from information and instructional practices can be discussed,
promulgated and evaluated.
As demonstrated in Figure 1, culminating from the study, rose the data-driven instructional
program. This framework unveiled six logistical functions: 1) developing a desire for change, 2)
reflection on data, 3) aligning school programs & curricula, 4) Understanding by Design
instructional practices and professional development, 5) provision of feedback, and 6) nurturing
teacher implementation. The school principal, senior leaders and teachers integrated these
functions to turn student data into informed decision making for teaching and learning.
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Figure 1: Relationship between Key Elements
Let’s briefly unpack each of the elements:
10.1 Developing a Desire for Change
This study highlighted that change can only be successful if staff not only accept it but
rather initiate and embrace it. There is plenty of evidence that concludes that imposed change from
the hierarchy is often unsustainable, with teachers continuing to “keep doing what they’ve always
been doing”. Resistance and obstruction to change will occur if leaders are unable to bring teachers
along with them.
At the School, there were three intentional processes undertaken to help create the desire
for change:
Developing an understanding of the nature of the proposed change: Teachers were
immersed with clear rational, evidenced by school wide data and were given time
to reflect on how proposed initiatives would impact them.
Supporting the educational context where the change will take place: Knowing that
teachers need to have “buy in” to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the
change, leadership ensured the school facilities supported the changes. This
included provision of targeted learning resources, rearrangement of learning spaces
and the purchase of appropriate furniture.
Addressing individual teacher circumstances: Each teacher is unique and has their
own professional (and personal) nuances that impact upon how they perceive the
change initiatives. Teachers reported that addressing, (or more precisely, removing)
obstacles and barriers was seen as an important part of helping teachers understand
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and then accept the change. Whether it be from providing flexible timetables to
providing different nursing hour options or from offering improved remuneration
packages to changing teaching workloads; addressing teachers’ personal
motivational attitudes was key to helping build staff “buy in”.
These elements resonate with the work undertaken by Lynch & Smith (2016), Lynch,
Smith & Menter, (2016) and Lynch, Smith, Provost, Yeigh & Turner (2017). Practical
implementation of this work was introduced at the School. Noting that most schools focus on
implementation of new programs and initiatives as the first step to introducing educational change,
this study supports the findings that greater success can be achieved when the principal establishes
a ‘readiness for change’ culture as the beginning point (Madden, 2017).
10.2 Reflection on Data
The purpose for gathering data is to analyse and to use the analysis to make the best-
informed educational decisions for student learning. While schools have collected and stored
student data for many years researchers contend that the use of data to inform and improve
educational practice is not the norm in schools. Furthermore, researchers argue that a major
obstacle to using student data lies in the technical domain (Wayman, Stringfield, & Yakimowski,
2004). The adage that schools are data rich, but information poor is based on the premise that data
is generally stored in schools in ways that are not accessible to teachers.
Results from this study highlight that as teachers reflect on their practice, they are more
focused on collecting and storing their own data. With improvement in technology and the
accessibility of data collecting apps (eg See Saw, Edmodo, Kahoot, various classroom observation
software) teachers are being more precise in what they are collecting and sharing.
Key questions used by teachers in this study are:
What data do I need to inform progress & attainment?
How reliable is the data I’m gathering?
How will the data be analysed?
The drive here was to engage the teacher in reflection and to question their impact on the
learning agenda. However, teachers needed to develop the linkage between what data is needed
and where to get it from.
10.3 Aligning School Programs & Curricula
This study identified the important role of aligning the curriculum (although complex and
time-consuming), requires the cooperation and collaboration of teachers. It was important to
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teachers that the collection of student data guided the school’s scope and sequence of learning for
each subject.
In undertaking curriculum alignment across all grades, teachers had to formally evaluate
the quality of the scope and sequence of learning to address the changing needs of students and
the workforce. Teachers collaborated to develop the curriculum to ensure there were no gaps that
might inhibit student attainment.
In this process, teachers reported that what mattered most to them was feedback on student
work and the provision of regular assessments (for checking for understanding). Data gathered by
subject heads helped critique the learning programs.
The undertaking of curriculum alignment also provided key data on what teachers were (or
were not) planning. It was found that in some grade levels the coverage of curriculum standards
was below par and needed attention. Further analysis led to the development of targeted teacher
directed professional development.
10.4 Understanding by Design Instructional Practices and Professional Development
In order to improve student learning, the premise that effective professional development
for teachers needs to (as stated above) relate directly to classroom practice in order to develop “buy
in” teachers. Given that the teacher is the most important influence on student achievement at
school (Hattie, 2012), improved teacher learning should equate to improved student learning.
Reframing teacher planning through the notion of Covey’s (2004) habit “Begin with the
End in Mind”, the focus on the principles of Wiggins, Wiggins & McTighe’s Understanding by
Design (2005) lead to the re-creation of teacher lesson plans. Underpinned by the school’s “8
Elements of an Effective Lesson” framework, an online teacher “Google Classroom” approach
was instituted. Staff undertook a series of workshops aimed at upskilling their instructional
practices.
This integrated job embedded professional learning enterprise has moved the School away
from the one-off workshop experience. With the provision of targeted online courses built
specifically to support teachers in understanding school expectations (eg lesson delivery and
curriculum planning) engagement in teacher professional learning has increased.
10.5 Provision of Feedback
Formal teacher appraisal, informal classroom walkthroughs and even peer to peer
conversations inherently provide feedback to teachers on performance matters (Marzano, 2012).
Selection of key teaching strategies based upon data gained from formative and summative
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assessment tasks, trial and error in student engagement strategies and listening to student voice
offer the teacher reflection fodder to make informed teaching and learning decisions.
Building a formalised feedback framework at the school yielded some key consequences.
The school was able to collect trend data around the instructional practices of the teachers which
lead to targeted job embedded professional development for teachers. Additionally, one of the key
aspects of the focus on providing teacher feedback on instructional performances was the dialogue
on best practices and supporting teachers to align their own practice. The consequence of the
dialogue included teachers being more prepared in order to be observed by their peers, lessons
were pitched at higher levels and teachers, over time developed new teaching strategies. It also
helped focus the establishment of the professional learning communities concept.
In this study, teachers not only self-reported improvement in the teaching practices after
acting upon the feedback provided but also noted improvement in student benchmark scores in
English and Maths.
Incidentally, from a student perspective, the student lesson survey responses indicated a
majority of students (75%) claimed that having a one-on-one meeting with the teacher was the
most effective means of receiving feedback as opposed to reading comments in copybooks (8%)
or whole of class overview (3%). This resonates with a study by Montgomery & Baker (2007) on
the impact of teacher-written feedback and the perceptions of students.
10.6 Nurturing Teacher Implementation
Supporting teachers to use data to inform instructional practice is an ongoing task for the
school leader. Teachers reported they became more proficient at differentiating their instruction
and using student data to careful craft learning plans for the students when they had to meet
regularly with their grade groups. In essence this is the building of teacher professional learning
communities.
As purported by Hargreaves & Fullan (2012), schools need to ensure the focus on the three
capitals (social, human and decisional) through various personalised professional learning plans,
reward/affirmation strategies and the opportunities for teachers to take risks in their teaching. To
often the school improvement focus of schools is on the provision of continuous professional
development and training (human capital). However, this study demonstrates that to impact school
improvement, you need to encourage people to work together, discuss and share ideas from the
professional development (in essence build the social capital), and then, choosing the relevant and
appropriate teaching strategies (decisional capital) to impact student learning.
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11. Conclusion
School based research of this scale are important for the wider educational fraternity. With
the continued push for more data focused decision making in initiating school improvement,
school leaders need to develop and then foster the conditions that will enable teachers to teach
effectively. Given the right tools in a timely manner coupled with the content knowledge and
pedagogical expertise, this paper has shown that schools focused on whole of school
implementation can have significant impact on student achievement.
11.1 Research Limitations
However, the findings of this study have to be seen in light of some limitations. This has
been a single school and there could be concerns on the size of the sample and caution may need
to be taken to the extent to which the findings can be generalised beyond this one school.
The second limitation stems from this study’s use of purposive sampling (Merriam, 1998).
Not all teachers from the school participated in the “Teacher as Researcher program. Only the
teachers actively involved in the program were chosen for the interview process.
11.2 Study Overview
This paper outlined the impact of a school’s leadership team’s reflective practices on
establishing a data driven decision making culture in an international school. Arguably effective
data use enables a school to understand its effectiveness, pinpoint successes and challenges,
identify areas of improvement, and help evaluate the effectiveness of its programs and instructional
practices.
However, teachers who regularly participated in the Teacher as Researcher Program, used
the data gathered and wrote about their experiences, made measurable improvements in their
teaching practices and students became the beneficiaries of their ongoing expertise.
The setting up of a framework, entrenched in literature rich research, enabled a school wide
approach to improving teacher performance. The fact that many teachers at the school are engaged
in action research, this study concurs with Hattie’s (2008, p 251) statement that:
“..innovation occurs when the teacher makes a deliberate action (not necessarily new)
method of teaching, curriculum, or strategy that is different from what he or she is
currently using”.
Through the use of data informed practices where teachers take ownership of data
collection and analysis and refine their teaching practices improved student learning occurs. As
evidenced in this study, teachers who take deliberate action to engage in data driven decision
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making, are provided with timely and appropriate professional learning, are offered regular
feedback on their practice and nurtured throughout their learning journey tend to improve their
instruction and raise student attainment levels.
A data driven mindset builds a teachers’ capacity to meet the learning needs for each
individual student. Inherent in building a model for using data as a change mechanism to improve
instructional practice, is the need to include guidelines for goal-setting, implementation,
assessment, analysis and feedback. As written elsewhere (see Madden, 2012) for this to occur, a
distributed teacher leadership focus is required to enable the above foundational stones to be put
into structures that move from testing students to influencing teacher instructional practice. This
paper offers a proven framework for schools wishing to create a culture of data decision making
to not only guide instructional practices but ultimately lead to improved student outcomes.
11.3 Scope of Future Research
As found in this study, improving school performance through the provision of targeted
conditions enhanced the intentional use of a research-based data decision making framework.
Given the findings of this study and its relevance to school leaders globally, the following
recommendations for further research are offered.
This study focused on one school’s approach. Upscaling the model across a system
of schools would provide greater insight into not only school improvement but the
intentional decision-making processes used would enhance the finding of this
study.
Continued research is warranted in the field of data collection and analysis as a
means to improve the teaching process. Focusing on instructional practice and the
role senior leaders take in developing the capability of teachers to undertake
DDDM is needed.
It is important for school leaders to understand how the school environment impacts
school improvement and in turn, support student learning. Further research into
environmental conditions and their impacts on teacher performance would be
beneficial.
PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 2454-5899
Available Online at: http://grdspublishing.org/ 557
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Rev.& expanded from Case study research in education,1988.Incl.bibliographical references,index