Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Danielle Geary


Since the inception of the No Child Left Behind legislation, school districts have been faced with a growing need to gather, analyze and monitor more data than ever before in their leadership of schools (Blink, 2007; Kowalski, Lasley & Mahoney, 2008; Mills, 2006). The adage that schools are “data rich” and “information poor”, while comical, is often true. School systems are awash in data and drowning is a real concern for new and soon-to-be leaders. The critical task for school leaders is to turn existing student achievement data into a format that lends itself to answering questions and improving outcomes for the students. Common barriers to transforming data into knowledge in educational settings often include poorly designed or non-existent data systems, disorganized record management, and temperamental gatekeepers who withhold data to preserve power, or personnel who simply fail to ask the right questions of the available data (Mills, 2006). Using data effectively does not require great statistical knowledge or high-priced analytical tools. It simply requires a desire to improve outcomes for students, staff, and school and a willingness to stop doing the same things and hoping for a different outcome (aka superstitious behavior). The ultimate goal for the training program delivered to students in the Masters in School Administration (MSA) program was to empower future principals to have the knowledge and skills to go beyond the usage of static reports and simple data views to develop skill and understanding of data as a dynamic entity to help support their leadership focus.


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