Data-Driven Improvement

Data are everywhere. Indeed, in many early childhood and elementary settings, practitioners are drowning in data. Data, however, provide important information to understand and monitor how well children, teachers, schools, organizations, and systems are doing.  Since the early 2000s, there has been extensive emphasis on the use of child assessment data to inform education improvement. While it is important to have a clear understanding of how each and every child's needs are being met, children alone should not bear the burden of proof. In comprehensive P-3 approaches, implementers rely on multiple data markers (i.e., classroom, school, program) to guide their efforts.

P-3 Framework Goal:  Current, relevant, and high-quality data from multiple sources are used to improve schools, programs, classrooms, instruction, professional development, and other systems.

The following resources highlight and support the importance of data-driven improvement in comprehensive P-3 approaches:

Overview of Issues

Publication Date: Jun 2016
Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign

Attendance is one example of a powerful data point that can inform and drive improvements in P-3 approaches. This report from Attendance Works and Healthy Schools Campaign shows how disparities in school attendance rates starting as early as preschool and kindergarten are contributing to achievement gaps and high school dropout rates across the country. The report also highlights the connection between health and attendance and the power of states to tackle absenteeism by tapping key champions, leveraging data, and learning from places that have improved attendance despite challenging conditions.

Publication Date: May 2012
Robert C. Pianta

Increasingly, classroom observations are becoming a prevalent approach to data-driven improvement: observations are used to better understand classroom interactions, teacher effectiveness, time use in classrooms, and more. This paper examines lessons learned from observation in early childhood education that may be helpful as K-12 systems begin implementing more rigorous observation protocols in PreK-3rd grade classrooms. These lessons focus on the importance of standardization, trained observers, methods for ensuring the validity and reliability of the instruments, and the use of observational measures as a lever to produce effective teaching.

State-Level Perspectives

Publication Date: Apr 2012
Donald J. Hernandez

Currently, some state goverments are building longitudinal data systems that aim to: provide information on teachers and programs; identify students who would benefit from intervention and other services; evaluate programs, schools, principals, and teachers; and inform local and state policy decisions. It is essential that PreK data be included in these systems so that we can analyze how PreK experiences relate to achivement in K-12 and beyond.

Policy Briefs

Publication Date: Nov 2011
Lisa Guernsey, Susan Ochshorn
A growing number of policymakers are searching for new approaches to identify good teaching, promote it, and reward it. In the birth-to-five world, many states have developed Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) that identify, rate, and enhance the quality of programs based on a wide array of criteria, such as adult-child ratios and how well teachers respond to children’s needs. In the K-12 world, states are trying to identify good teaching at the level of the individual teacher.  Observation tools should play a significant role in the development of these evaluation and professional development systems. This policy brief makes recommendations to federal and state governments, as well as teacher preparation programs and researchers, to establish fair and reliable measures of teachers' practice.