Driven by Data

Question: What is data-driven professional development?

  1. A mouthful
  2. What you get when you apply data-driven decision making to staff training
  3. A technique for planning professional development based on research instead of seat-of-the-pants guesswork
  4. All of the above

  • Use more than one assessment tool. Multiple data sources optimize the credibility of results.
  • Create a well-developed plan for data collection and a reliable assessment strategy to determine how effective the process is.
  • Don't ask teachers to complete all the MyTarget segments in one sitting.
  • Strive for what Jim Collins calls "autopsy without blame." Take a clean look at student performance data without focusing on individual instructors.
  • Provide adequate resources. Everyone wants to do their best, but with financial and professional resources you can get the tools and key people to help you achieve your goals.
  • Personalize the assessment approach according to the culture and needs of your schools.
  • Don't think of the data as threatening; it's neither good nor bad.
  • Be sure to ask the right questions.
  • Don't tie the results to formal evaluations, especially in the beginning, or you won't get cooperation or buy-in.

Stephanie Gold is a San Francisco-based freelancer.

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