A simple internet search for “data-driven instruction” yields nearly four million hits. Clearly, the concept is neither new nor novel.

Yet still, research continues to show that educators’ ability to actually use data to guide instructional decisions is lacking. How can that be?

While sifting through those search results, I realized something: Just about every article focuses on why data-based instruction is important, but not a single one I’ve found has addressed what that really means and how to make it happen in real classrooms with real students.

It’s time to push the conversation to the next level and help educators do something with their data.

Data-driven doesn’t just happen

As esteemed engineer and author William Edwards Deming put it, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

3 steps to developing a district that uses data to guide instructional decisions

Fortunately, we live in a world and work in a field that is rich in data. From assessments to demographics to behavior to attendance, we collect more information than ever before. But of course, that data is only as good as what is done with it.

To that end, being “data-driven” is not just a characteristic that some districts naturally have and others don’t. It’s a system that must be deliberately set into motion and carefully sustained.

After years of observing districts and working with educators across the country, here’s what I know it takes to be a truly data-driven district.

(Next page: 3 factors to developing a data-driven district)

About the Author:

Peter Bencivenga is chief academic officer at IO Education. After serving as a high school teacher in NYC public schools for more than 10 years and working on multiple edtech-integration initiatives, he co-founded the education software company DataCation.

Amy Jackson is senior manager of marketing at IO Education and serves as an adjunct in Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education.