Washington, DC — September 10, 2007 — The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) today released recommended best practices for beginning and implementing data-driven decision making (DDD) programs in schools, based on the experiences of two school districts with diverse student needs and educational objectives. Both the Chicago Public Schools in Illinois and the Fox Chapel Area School District in Pennsylvania have planned and worked diligently to implement DDD programs to meet different goals, respective to each district. Collecting, analyzing and discussing the implications of data are a part of each district?s approach to data-driven decision making, and the overarching goal of both districts is to use data to improve instruction for all students.

?A University of Pittsburgh study on teachers? attitudes toward data showed that they want to use data and understand the importance, but the problem is getting appropriate data for individual instruction,? said Norton Gusky, Coordinator of Educational Technology for Fox Chapel Area School District. For this district, which has used data planning since 2003, the goal is to collect relevant data that will provide the information necessary to individualize learning for students and allow for a data-based approach to curriculum planning and instruction.

In the case of the Chicago Public Schools, data-driven decision making is being leveraged to help the district maintain student information, specialized services and curriculum instruction. Chicago?s DDD master database, which was completed and rolled out this fall, will also be used to improve instruction and meet unique student needs.

Sharnell Jackson, Chief eLearning Officer for Chicago Public Schools and a member of the CoSN Board, notes that the district?s application of data-driven decision making to teaching and district leadership has resulted in increased student achievement. ?We have the highest achievement gains that we have ever had in Chicago Public Schools,? said Jackson. ?Everything we do is related to student learning, teaching and instructional leadership. We look at what is needed and provide a coherent approach to supporting schools to look at data to provide mass customization and monitor progress.?

Based on case studies for the Chicago and Fox Chapel Area school districts, CoSN recommends the following best practices for successful planning and implementation of DDD programs:

  • Information has to arrive on time to make a difference in instruction.
  • The more relevant and readable reports are, the more likely they will be used.
  • Trained data teams help build capacity among principals and teachers.
  • Electronic data capture results in more complete and reliable data collection than paper-based methods.
  • If one principal requests a particular report or query, others are probably interested in the same one.
  • Distributing reports and analysis online saves time and money.
  • Confidence and capacity grow from successful short-term pilot projects.
  • Small districts can leverage regional partnerships to share best practices.
  • Data and analysis allow teams to engage in deep discussion about each student?s individualized learning needs.

    To view the case studies, please visit www.cosn.org.

    About the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)
    CoSN is the country?s premier voice in education technology leadership, serving K-12 technology leaders who through their strategic use of technology, improve teaching and learning. CoSN provides products and services to support and nurture leadership development, advocacy, coalition building, and awareness of emerging technologies.

    CoSN leadership initiatives include: Using Technology to Raise the Achievement of ALL Students (www.accessibletech4all.org); Cyber Security for the Digital District (www.securedistrict.org); Data-Driven Decision-Making (www.3d2know.org); K-12 Open Technologies (www.k12opentech.org); Taking Total Cost of Ownership to the Classroom (www.classroomtco.org); Value of Investment (www.edtechvoi.org); and the development of the Council of School District Chief Technology Officers (CTO Council).

    CoSN?s membership includes a unique blend of education and technology leaders, policy makers, and influencers from the public and private sectors. Our audience includes key technology leaders (often called Chief Technology Officers–CTOs) in leading-edge states and districts, policy makers, private sector leaders, as well as those technology leaders who wish to accelerate their districts? or states? systemic technology use. Visit www.cosn.org or phone 866.267.8747 to find out more about CoSN?s programs and activities supporting leadership development to ensure that information technology has a direct and positive impact on student learning in elementary and secondary schools.

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