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Data Use
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Educators and policymakers have access to data from many sources. A key challenge is how to best use the available data to inform decisionmaking. RELs work in partnership with states and districts to 1) conduct original high quality research, 2) provide training, coaching, and technical support, and 3) disseminate high quality research findings to improve data use. A selected list of resources developed by the REL Program appears below.


  • Benchmarking Education Management Information Systems Across the Federated States of Micronesia. (REL Pacific, November 2016). This report series includes four state-level studies in the Federated States of Micronesia states of Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Yap. The purpose of these studies was to examine the quality of the education management information systems in the Federated States of Micronesia.
  • Guide to Using the Teacher Data Use Survey. (REL Appalachia, October 2016). The Teacher Data Use Survey and accompanying guide provide district and school leaders with a survey instrument that will enable educators to learn more about teachers' use of data, teachers' attitudes toward data, and teachers' perception of supports for using data.
  • How are teacher evaluation data used in five Arizona districts? (REL West, May 2016). Recent teacher evaluation reforms instituted across the country have sought to yield richer information about educators' strengths and limitations and guide decisions about targeted opportunities for professional growth. This study describes how results from new multiple-measure teacher evaluations were being used in 2014/15 in five school districts in Arizona
  • Instructional improvement cycle: A teacher's toolkit for collecting and analyzing data on instructional strategies (REL Central, May 2015). This toolkit, developed by REL Central in collaboration with York Public Schools in Nebraska, provides a process and tools to help teachers use data from their classroom assessments to evaluate promising practices. The toolkit provides teachers with guidance on how to deliberately apply and study one classroom strategy over the course of one unit and systematically document and compare results to consider the effects of a given instructional strategy on student learning.
  • Toolkit for a Workshop on Building a Culture of Data Use (REL Northeast and Islands, April 2015). The Culture of Data Use Workshop Toolkit helps school and district teams apply research to practice as they establish and support a culture of data use in their educational setting. The field-tested workshop toolkit guides teams through a set of structured activities to develop an understanding of data-use research in schools and to analyze examples from practice.
  • Practitioner Data Use in Schools: Workshop Toolkit (REL Northeast and Islands, December 2014). The Practitioner Data Use Workshop Toolkit is designed to help practitioners systematically and accurately use data to inform their teaching practice. The toolkit includes an agenda, slide deck, participant workbook, and facilitator's guide and covers the following topics: developing data literacy, engaging in a cycle of inquiry, accessing and analyzing available data, identifying and creating student goals, and using data to make action plans about instructional decisions.


  • Implementing a Data Literate Culture in a Rural Setting (REL Southwest). REL Southwest provided technical assistance through the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance to Homer Elementary School, Byng Public Schools, Oklahoma, as part of the Educators and Data Use project. The focus of the technical assistance was the effective use of data to inform classroom instruction. The ongoing, collaborative professional learning consisted of two in-person training sessions followed by monthly virtual meetings with the teachers and principals. Through the vision and leadership of the principals, all Homer Elementary School teachers became dedicated to ongoing, collaborative professional learning with a focus on using data to improve student learning.
  • Pacific Education Leaders on the Optimizing Education Data Systems Video. (REL Pacific). This video provides testimonials from Pacific region education and civic leaders about the REL Pacific Optimizing Education Data Systems video. Interviewees include Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Commissioner of Education Dr. Rita Sablan, Palau Minister of Education Sinton Soalablai, and Micronesia Coordinator of the Migrant Resource Center Emeliana Musrasrik.
  • PDE Data Summit: Using data to identify at-risk students. (REL Mid-Atlantic). During the 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Data Summit, panelist Joetta L. Britvich, Principal, South Middle School, Albert Gallatin Area School District, describes how South Middle School uses data to identify at-risk students.
  • Reading School District's use of data to go from fiscally distressed to sound footing (REL Mid-Atlantic). During the 2015 Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Data Summit, panelist Dr. John J. George, Executive Director, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, describes the transition of the Reading School District and how it used data to improve its finances.
  • Study Findings: Data Collection and Use in Early Childhood Programs, Evidence from the Northeast (REL Northeast and Islands). Early childhood education programs face increasing pressures to collect data, about both teachers and children, and to use those data to make decisions. Research supports the potential value of using data in education settings for multiple purposes, but little is known about whether or how early childhood education programs use data for these purposes.
  • Teacher Effectiveness Data Use (REL West). This video-based workshop from the REL West and the Center for Great Teachers and Leaders builds the capacity of district and school leaders to better understand, analyze, and apply teacher effectiveness data to make strategic decisions regarding teacher assignment, leadership, and professional development, and also helps facilitate local planning around the use of these data.

Archived Webinars

  • Building a System of Great Schools: The What, So What, and Now What? (REL Southwest, October 24, 2017). This REL Southwest webinar, recorded October 24, 2017, presents actionable guidance on how to build a system of great schools through school portfolio management. The webinar recording provides an overview of the research surrounding school portfolio management, followed by an engaging discussion around defining school quality, mapping school quality to potential school interventions, and orchestrating an annual decisionmaking cycle to ensure that school interventions maximize impact for students. Cleveland Metropolitan School District serves as an example of how one district is currently implementing these elements to drive school improvement, and the presentation offers an overview of the Texas System of Great Schools Network, as well.
  • Skill-Builder Webinar: How to Facilitate the Practitioner Data Use Workshop with REL Resources (REL Northeast and Islands, September 15, 2015). This Skill-Builder webinar focuses on the facilitation, organization, and resources necessary to conduct the workshop in person. Facilitators and coaches learn strategies for selecting data, conducting workshop protocols, and leading discussion.
  • The Kentucky Longitudinal Data System (KLDS): Connecting Education and Outcomes (REL Appalachia, August 31, 2016). REL Appalachia partnered with the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS) to host this webinar on the capabilities, products, and services available to Kentucky school districts and practitioners through KCEWS and the Kentucky Longitudinal Data System (KLDS).
  • Skill-Builder Webinar: Building a Culture of Data Use in Rural Districts (REL Northeast and Islands, May 19, 2015). This Skill-Builder Workshop Webinar, hosted by the Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance, presented the key characteristics of a data-using culture in schools and districts. The workshop explored a "Culture of Data Use Framework" through an analysis of best practices, barriers to implementation, and policy and guidance questions.
  • Implementing a Data Literate Culture at the School and Teacher Levels II – Introduction (REL Southwest, April 2, 2015). This bridge event webinar, Implementing a Data Literate Culture at the School and Teacher Levels II, was hosted by the REL Southwest. The webinar is in four parts.
  • Intermediate Database Concepts Workshop Presented by REL Mid-Atlantic at the PDE Data Summit (REL Mid-Atlantic, March 25, 2015). Building off the Basic Database Concepts Workshop presented by Dr. Nancy Smith, Kasia Razynska, and Dr. Teresa Duncan, this presentation demonstrates how the use of standard data management processes can improve data quality and better inform school and district decisionmaking.
  • Data Dashboards Using Excel and MS presented by REL Mid-Atlantic at the PDE Data Summit (REL Mid-Atlantic, March 2015). The goal of this workshop presented by Dr. Rosemarie O'Conner and Gabriel Hartmann is to expand attendees' knowledge and expertise in designing dashboards. The dashboards can be used to communicate with students and parents regularly and efficiently.
  • Data Informed Action for Dropout Prevention (REL Northeast and Islands, October 10, 2014). In collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Education, the Puerto Rico Research Alliance for Dropout Prevention at REL Northeast & Islands hosted this webinar on the use of data in support of dropout prevention.
  • Foundations of Data Use for School Boards (REL Northeast and Islands, December 12, 2014). This Skill-Builder Workshop hosted by the Urban School Improvement Alliance at REL Northeast & Islands provided school-board and school-committee members with the opportunity to consider both effective data-use practices for decision making and the importance of supporting a strong data-use culture within their respective districts.
  • Using Data to Inform Instruction: Building the Capacity of Educators (REL Northeast and Islands, November 24, 2014). In collaboration with the US Virgin Islands Department of Education, the US Virgin Islands College and Career Readiness Research Alliance at REL Northeast & Islands hosted this webinar drawing on the IES Practice Guide "Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision-Making."
  • The "Long Now": Local Data in an Era of State Longitudinal Data Systems (REL Northeast and Islands, April 30, 2014).Dr. Neal Gibson, Director of the Arkansas Research Center, and members of the Urban School Improvement Alliance at REL Northeast & Islands in this webinar examined both the potential and the traps of longitudinal data systems; meeting FERPA requirements; and creating secure, private, and agile databases that require a minimum of capital investment and humanpower to maintain.
  • Our State Has an SLDS—Now What? (REL Southeast and REL Southwest, February 25, 2014). This 4-part bridge event webinar was co-presented by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast and the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest on February 25, 2014.
  • The Data-Informed District (REL Southwest, December 5, 2013). Drawing upon his 3-year study with three Texas school districts, Dr. Wayman discusses five components of the Data-Informed District as well as the research base behind the components and the barriers and facilitators for implementing them.
  • Bridge Event – Data Collection and Use: An Early Childhood Perspective (REL Northeast and Islands, August 13, 2013). At this webinar, hosted by the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance, a presentation of the research is accompanied by perspectives from an early childhood education specialist at the Rhode Island Department of Education and a Rhode Island preschool program director.
  • Organizational Learning and Data Use in Schools and Districts: Strategies for Improvement (REL Northeast and Islands, July 24, 2013). Effective learning organizations need strong connections and trust among teachers, principals, and other school leaders, but Kara Finnigan has found in her own research on district-level social network analysis that connectedness often is rare in low-performing districts, and that high turnover contributes to this problem.


For more resources in ERIC on the topic of Data Use, click here.