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Does Teacher Data Use Lead to Improved Student Achievement? A Review of the Empirical Evidence


by Jana Grabarek & Leanne M. Kallemeyn - 2020

Background/Context: The importance attached to practicing data use is evident in its inclusion in federal law, competitive grant programs, state teaching license requirements, and professional development (PD) workshops around the world. Yet, practitioners and scholars have identified misconceptions clouding data use practice, questioned its utility, and suggested its discontinuation. These tensions are linked to various conceptualizations of data use, which include simple, linear, and complex, contextualized understandings. Prior research on data use as sensemaking, data use intervention components and promising practices, factors influencing data use, and using data to address equity suggest data use is a complex endeavor.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This study explored the link between teacher data use, in its many forms, and improvements in student achievement.

Research Design: This study is a systematic review of 39 quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies.

Data Collection and Analysis: Descriptive details of each study were recorded, including the sample and its demographics; study location, length, design, and measures; school subject foci; type(s) of data used and type(s) of data strategies employed; school levels involved; and findings/results. Data use efforts also were coded for their inclusion of data use intervention components and promising practices; teacher, context, and assessment factors influencing data use; and equity practices and principles. Study results were categorized as positive, mixed, or null based on main effects, and shifts in proportions of study outcomes were noted as results were analyzed through a variety of lenses.

Findings/Results: Fifteen studies identified positive relationships (38% of studies) between data use and student achievement, 10 pointed to mixed relationships (26%), and 14 shared no (or null) relationships (36%). No differences were evident when considering studies by the school levels, subject areas, and study designs involved. Studies that had positive impacts on student achievement more often than the sample overall incorporated the following elements: ongoing professional development, comprehensive data use interventions targeting multiple leverage points, multiple types of data, and intentions to use data for continuous improvement of all students.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings demonstrate that a comprehensive framework for data use can have positive impacts on student achievement. Implications for future research and practice are provided.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 12, 2020, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23506, Date Accessed: 3/7/2021 12:27:47 AM

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About the Author
  • Jana Grabarek
    Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education
    E-mail Author
    JANA GRABAREK, Ph.D., is a recent graduate of the research methodology program at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education. Her research explores reflective practice in education, particularly teachers’ use of data to inform decision making.
  • Leanne M. Kallemeyn
    Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education
    E-mail Author
    LEANNE M. KALLEMEYN, Ph.D., is an associate professor in research methodology at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Education. Her scholarship focuses on how teachers and school administrators use (and do not use) data and evidence in their daily routines.
 
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