Teacher and Principal Experiences with Data-Driven Decision Making, School Improvement Plan Quality, and Academic Growth

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Data-driven decision making and improvement planning have become common expectations in today’s schools, but much is unknown about how these efforts actually occur and the degree to which they impact student achievement. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of data-driven decision making (DDDM) and school improvement plan (SIP) quality on student achievement and to identify best practices in DDDM and school planning. The mixed-methods design employed surveys of teachers and principals, a rubric to score SIPs, principal interviews, and a qualitative review of SIPs. Quantitative results showed that while teachers and principals have many areas of agreement regarding DDDM on their campuses, they also have multiple areas of disagreement. There was limited evidence of relationships between DDDM survey results, SIP quality, and student achievement. The important role of collaboration, especially in the context of professional learning communities, emerged as a key theme in the qualitative component of the study. Results are analyzed within the theoretical framework of organizational learning theory and recommendations for future research are included.