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This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to improve the education of American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Education and other schools.

Using Data

Using data effectively involves understanding how to use it and being aware of the challenges that entails. The lists offered highlight how high performing schools use data, as well as challenges and impediments faced.

High Performing Schools Use Data To
  • Create a culture of collective responsibility for all students
  • Understand that assessment is an integral part of the instructional process
  • Test their results against their espoused mission
  • Make clear distinctions between inputs (by adults) and outcomes (for students)
  • Use both objective and subjective/perceptual data appropriately
  • Base decisions and plans on multi-year data from multiple sources
  • Disaggregate data to identify achievement gaps and equity issues
  • Focus on the most critical priorities to conserve time, energy and money
  • "Drill down" for student and skill-specific data in priority areas
  • "Plan forward" as students rise—to respond to individual skill gaps
  • "Plan backward" to fill gaps in the instructional program
  • "Look around" at research, best practice and exemplary schools
  • "Look within" to analyze curriculum and instructional strategies
  • Select proven strategies for implementation
  • Identify and plan for student populations with specific needs
  • Identify formative assessments to balance large-scale, high stakes tests
  • Monitor rate of progress over time—student and cohort
  • Gather evidence of implementation and impact of improvement strategies
  • Consolidate multiple plans
  • Take the initiative to tell "the rest of the story"
Human Challenges to Use of Data
  • Lack of proper training
  • Lack of time
  • Feast or famine
  • Fear of evaluation
  • Fear of exposure
  • Confusing cultural problem with technical problem
Impediments to Use of Data
  • All the focus on one data source
  • High stakes anxiety that increases resistance
  • Reinforcement of teaching vs testing" perception
  • Annual planning that forces short-term, first-order change
  • Mandated goals that decrease commitment
Incentives for Use of Data
  • Students IDs track mobile students
  • Access to multiple years of data
  • Specific skill breakdowns for groups and individual students
  • User-friendly visual displays
  • Technical support with data analysis
  • Facilitation of collaboration in data interpretation and decision-making


Edie Holcomb, Executive Director, School Administration Bellingham Public Schools, Bellingham, Washington, Getting Excited About Data (2nd ed): Combining People, Passion and Proof to Maximize Student Achievement, Corwin Press 2004, with permission.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.