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Research Questions

  1. What kinds of data and supports did teachers have access to through the electronic data management system(s)?
  2. What kinds of support did teachers receive in using student data to guide decisions about instruction?
  3. How often did teachers use an electronic data management system for each of the following purposes?

Teachers' use of student data to inform instruction is commonly accepted as sound educational practice, and this data use is only likely to grow as more data, as well as more-complex data, become increasingly available to educators. However, numerous studies reveal inconsistent data use among teachers and an overall lack of the preparation and skills needed to interpret and use student data to inform instructional practice. To effectively use a variety of student data, including — but not limited to — assessment data, teachers must possess both assessment literacy (the ability to design, select, interpret and use assessment results appropriate for educational decisions) and data literacy (the ability to understand and use data to inform decisions). Research shows that teachers' sense of self-efficacy in interpreting and using data is linked to their actual use of data; professional development supports can help build this self-efficacy and increasing data use. Results from the RAND Corporation's web-based American Educator Panels survey provide insight into teachers' access to data and the supports they receive to use it.

Key Findings

Teachers receive support for data use, have limited access to advanced data

  • Most teachers had access to student attendance and grade data; many had access to standardized test scores by student and grade.
  • Fewer than half of teachers had access to students' cumulative records (e.g., disciplinary history, course enrollment) or to links between student assessment results and instructional resources tailored to student learning needs.
  • Eighty-three percent of teachers reported having received some type of support with using student data.
  • The three most commonly reported supports are principal encouragement for using data in instructional decisionmaking (64 percent), professional development on data-driven decisionmaking offered at a school (59 percent), and support from school/district data staff or a consultant skilled in data analysis (45 percent).


  • Investing in teacher data-use support could lead to increased data use in instructional practice.

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