Since 2010 when the US Department of Education performed a study that concluded that data-driven decision making helps inform instructional practice, schools have been searching for best practices. Demonstrated Success has finely tuned its approach and offers educators an inside look at our three foundational principles of data coaching. These principles are derived from decades of experience working in urban and rural, small and large K-12 schools in New Hampshire and around New England.

The first of our foundational data work principles is, “What is measured, gets done.” With all the competing priorities for teachers and leaders in schools, it is easy to erode the time in the day or week that is set aside to look at the data relevant to teaching and learning and overall school functioning. For this reason, we teach schools how to identify their highest priorities and set measurable goals to achieve those needed changes. For example, using a PLC model, we teach grade level and content teams to use achievement, demographic and behavioral data to create SMART goals, and use data inquiry cycles to keep them focused on priority learning and their own instructional choices.

Secondly, we also recognize that it is critical for schools to have defined and explicit protocol documents to guide their focused teamwork. Using a structured process of collaborative data inquiry is essential for rigorous data analysis and shared understanding of problems and strengths. Additionally, collaborative data inquiry encourages ownership of outcomes and solutions. Our team has devised a series of protocols and guiding practices that we have used effectively with hundreds of teams to help them see the “ah-ha” moments where their data contradicts their assumptions and leads to bold new action steps to support student learning. Effective use of protocols during collaborative data inquiry creates predictable routines and norms where educators feel safe to own student results and explore new methods to support their students. Lastly, collaborative data inquiry also builds a sense of collective efficacy (Hattie, 2018) where teams of educators can connect their choices and actions to observable, concrete student success. The celebrations of that success transform school culture.

A third essential principle in our data work is triangulation of data to get a full and accurate picture of the whole, be it a student, a class, or a school community. We advocate including demographic data, including: attendance data; local, state, and national assessment data; formative classroom data; SEL data; and student work samples. Similarly, we assist schools to analyze an array of community population data, district financial data, school culture survey & focus group data, teacher performance data, longitudinal performance data, etc. to assess and monitor the successes and needs of the school community.

Engaging in data driven decision making can be a daunting task, but with the support of a team and a well-rehearsed dialogue that is objective and clear, all educators can become well-versed in it.

If you would like to learn more about our PD programs, contact Karen Matso, Director of Professional Development/Demonstrated Success, at