Using data, transforming potential into practice

by Various


This issue of Ideas into Action focuses on the use of data and its potential to transform teaching, learning, and leadership. It is extremely readable, gives useful definitions, and is full of practical ideas for using data in your school. It provides excellent material to use with staff.

The article is research embedded but practically focused to show how data can be used effectively and efficiently. It sets out which classroom-based data practices work and which do not.

The research cited is backed up in the New Zealand BES Teacher Professional Learning and Development by Timperley, Wilson, Barrar & Fung (2007).

The article focuses on:

  • how data can support leadership
  • how teachers and leaders can use data to support decisions that lead to improved student achievement
  • how leaders can put this knowledge into daily practice.  

The article stresses how important it is for school leaders to establish the purpose for data use with teachers, and provide opportunities and time for them to work with data. It notes that teachers are more likely to embrace a data initiative when it is well presented, well implemented, relevant to the learning needs of their students, and is useful in informing better classroom teaching.

Eight recommended activities are suggested for turning data into improved processes that make a difference in schools, taking account of the challenges that might confront school leaders when they initiate data use in their schools.

After page 18, a number of resources and references (including some from New Zealand) are set out that will support schools in the work of using data effectively to improve classroom teaching and student achievement.

Reflective questions

 These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • Which parts of this article can you adapt to use with your staff to familiarise them with data collection, analysis, and use in terms of meeting the needs of your students?
  • What support networks could you use to share your work with other school leaders and get their ideas to improve your use of data and ensure that data informs teaching practice and classroom learning in the wider area of all your schools?
  • What challenges does your school face around data analysis and use to improve student achievement?
  • What strategies will you need to implement to get your school focused on the potential of data to improve teaching and learning?

Read the article online. (At this link scroll to the title)

Also see Using Evidence for Learning at Assessment Online.


Using Data: Transforming potential into practice, in Ideas into Action for school and system leaders, Ontario Leadership Strategy, Bulletin 5, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Education.

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