The overall focus of this project is the development of school, community, and district capacity for shared leadership and governance in the use of school and community data in planning for school improvement across WPEC’s 10 school districts.
Theory of Action
Our approach draws upon research on capacity building and data use to enhance student outcomes. The capacity-building model assumes that leadership is a collective exercise among stakeholders, including teachers, students, parents, citizens, and business and industry leaders. It is also based upon the widespread view that effective educational leaders are central to the development of individual and organizational capacity. The findings from the Wallace Foundation’s 10-year study of school leadership noted leaders in high-data-use schools have clear purposes for analyzing data. They engage their staff collectively in data analysis, build internal capacity for this work, and use data to solve problems, not simply to identify them (Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom & Anderson, 2010, p. 179). The study also found that variations in how data is used explained significant variation in student achievement. The study also noted principals greatly influence how data is used, yet few principals systematically collect data, and barely 50% of principals involve their staffs in analyzing data.
Plan of Action
Given these findings, and the influence district data-use practices have on principal’s data-use practices, this project aims to develop both school and district-level capacity to use data. The project builds capacity at the school level by engaging each principal in a two-year process of problem finding among school data, and then building school stakeholder capacity to plan, address, and monitor effectiveness. Mentor-coaches from different WPEC districts, who are learning mentoring and coaching skills, support these principals. This cross-district support provides a broader perspective of district-level practices and enhances all districts’ opportunities for building capacity.
The principal group is known as Leadership 2.0. Their work covers a two-year period with the chance of a third year should they wish to become coaches for their districts. The mentor-coach group is known as Leadership 3.0. Their development period is one year, with a second year spent supporting their Leadership 2.0 principal participant and respective school.
During year-one, Leadership 2.0 principals develop datasets indicative of the next steps for school improvement. They mine current data, share results with teachers and other stakeholders, and develop a plan for improvement that includes the systematic collection of indicators for school success. Leadership 3.0 mentor-coaches support these activities, providing feedback on the principals’ strategies for building stakeholder capacity and participation. They elicit resources from the district offices and community stakeholders as needed for school improvement. For year two, the data monitoring will yield new opportunities for engagement about student success and school improvement. Thus, this partnership will lead to improved leadership data-use practices that enhance teaching and learning for improved student achievement.