Using Data in Schools – Some Reading


In response, some general ‘data’ reading. No space here to offer critque of all of this (but see comment underneath)

Some quick thoughts of my own here:

A lot of this is that we get the cart before the horse and use data to drive other things, rather than feed data into other school policies/practices/decision-making. I think we are far better finding a school practice first, and seeing how data can help. So, for example, schools conduct self/peer evaluation – what kind of data will be useful as part of this? What kind of data will be useful when reviewing curriculum? Teacher performance? etc.

Lambeth report for example (above) talks about using data to pose questions and pulling it together with other sources, professional judgement etc. Workload Advisory report talks a lot about purpose. I think these have it right.

In contrast, using data, flight paths, targets etc. etc. to ‘drive’ what goes on puts far too much weight on the data given what we know about its validity and reliability.

Also worth mentioning that validity is increasingly thought about in terms of interpretation and use (see Kane, 2013). So poor interpretation and use of data is a bigger problem in my view than (inevitably) imperfect data. ‘It is not what you do, it is the way that you do it’ and all..

I hope that helps.




Kane, M. T. (2013). Validating the interpretations and uses of test scores. Journal of Educational Measurement50(1), 1-73.


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