Here are six key steps in forming a culture of strong data use to improve education


Leadership is a key tenet of a successful culture of data.

Schools are overflowing with data—attendance records, achievement data, even logs from mobile devices—and the question remains, how can education systems create a culture that uses data to make decisions?

Central to the creation of a Culture of Data are three key structures: Technology, Process, and Leadership. All are essential to support the shift to a data-centric culture in education.

When considering Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) technology, it’s obvious that the agencies supplying and using data must be using compatible software and sufficient hardware to accommodate such a large amount of data and processing. Strong processes are vital as well; each agency that contributes or uses data from the system must trust that the other members’ policies regarding privacy, data quality, and acceptable use are compatible, and the processes must be sustainable and effective.

And finally, leadership is a key tenet of a successful culture of data. Without it, the success of the whole initiative is in danger. For administrators, superintendents, and state educational leaders, it’s essential that a system-wide shift is made to involve data in all decisions, and its success is in their hands.

Leading toward a Culture of Data

While there certainly is not a step-by-step checklist that will enable a school or educational entity to arrive at a destination—it’s much more subjective than that!—there are many actions and activities educational leaders can do now to model and encourage use of data resources available, promoting making the smartest decisions possible. Here are six key steps to begin.