Are you beginning down a data path at your school?  Or do you already consider your school to be data rich?  Then I have a question for you:

Where does most of your data analysis effort live?

I’m betting you haven’t thought of that question in those terms: Who is doing the data analysis, at what level, for whom, and where is the data coming from?

Due largely to the initatives in the US, the majority of data analysis lives at what social sciences dub the Macro level.  Administrations want to know how their school and districts are performing and where the “gaps” fall (you can find an example here).

A more data savvy school will then translate that data to the team level, or what I am calling the Meso level.  Teams will determine what the large school data means for them at a team level and what actions each team member of a PLC is responsible for (example).

But few schools reach the Micro level (example).  What does actionable results look like to a single teacher and a single student?  The way I see it, there are two models and they all stem from where the data starts.

The Accountability Model


Data in the accountability model is used to find problems.  Data starts with the administration looking for gaps and making decisions  Rarely does it move beyond the administrative level – but if it does, it still follows the same “problem finding” approach at the division and team levels.  Principals might look at data to compare teams, and teams might look at data to compare teachers.


Don’t get me wrong, the Macro level is important.  Administration and school leaders should know data snapshots and trends and be informed to make decisions.  But lets change the model:

The Empowerment Model


This model puts the emphasis of analysis in the hands of those experiencing the data: the teachers.  Projects in this model include action research and teams forming common agreements and best practices defined by individuals and not districts.  Principals are informed and support individual and PLC goals since they are receiving the data and conclusions from their staff rather than from the district.  District admin still are aware of the trends of their data, but so is everyone.

Most of all, Teachers feel the data is a vehicle for change rather than a window into their inadequacies.

So which model will you choose?


It takes intentional steps to ensure which way the data is flowing.

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